in the French countryside continues to be a series of wonderful new
experiences. I now know what it means to encounter a silence that is deafening
and almost painful to the ear. Being raised in a large family and in urban
cities, I never knew what nothing sounded like. Even when out camping
one hears wildlife. The acoustics in my room are such that the depths of the
night are deadly silent. My suite in the
villa is like a mausoleum and it entombs me every night. But every morning when I step outside ready
for my daily walk, I am greeted by nature’s soft symphony filling my ears.
Here, on the quaint outskirts of an old French village, there are no airplanes
or helicopters overhead, no street noise, just the gentle rustling of the trees
and soft blowing of the wind that only gets louder as I approach the forest.
Warning: this entry is not a story about jet setting or glamorous cocktail
parties or even meeting worldly, exciting people. This story is a simple story
about how a sickly city mouse was transformed into a robust country mouse. As you can see, the road
into the forest is picturesque.
day is an adventure in the natural world. Today I discovered that the villas on
my chemin (country block) are all built from rock mined from the area.
Construction workers laying the driveway next door actually excavate pebble
from the vacant lot at the end of the road for gavel for the new driveway.
Gravel is not trucked in but constructed utilizing natural surrounding
The woodland path behind
the villa is a patchwork of burnt red, bright peach and slate gray; colors of
earth I have never seen before. I don’t know how old the road is, but its worn
path seems almost ancient. At the opening of the thicket there is a weathered
bridge built centuries ago to support a stream that no longer exists. The trail
in some places is wide enough to fit a Suburban, of which I have yet to see
while living in France, and in denser parts of the wood it is only a foot wide.
This is a scene I’ve only experienced vicariously. Living at the entrance to a
forest has brought me alive with childlike curiosity. I had never taken the
time to look at a tree, let alone notice the sinewy veins in a leaf or the
snowflake-like originality of its flower petal formations. The wood is a
symphony of birds chirping, insects buzzing, and the billowing wind. The sky
above is piercing blue sprinkled with wisps of brilliant white clouds. It is a different sky, much more clear than
the one that hung over me growing up. There is no gray smog hanging overhead
like a wet blanket, here there is nothing but blue sky. Sky and forest stretch
for miles, and on a clear day one can spot the Mediterranean Sea.