We returned to Provence this week; a place we have been to many times. Mostly we have stayed in the same holiday home, high in the hills in the Louberon region. Our cottage is set amidst lavender fields, and as I sit writing this I look to my right and see a swathe of purple flowers, flanked by the mountains of the Vacluse beyond. The gentle aroma of lavender fills the air, like a constant waft of perfume from a genteel grandmamas lace handkerchief.
So far we have had cloudless blue skies, hot, sticky days and the comfortable feeling that the weather is set fair, at least for the time we are here. The days are spent relaxing, shopping, reading and eating. We don’t tend to venture far these days, preferring to chill out and just soak up the atmosphere. That is beauty of knowing somewhere so well; the exploring has been done, the paths well worn to the familiar places, and the best shops visited and revisited. Of course, there are times when a little voice in our heads urges us to go out and explore, and we do; indeed there is always a little change here and there, enough to pique our interest without taking us too far out of our way.
There is always a feeling of peace here but one can let one’s mind drift and absorb a faint feeling of disquiet when the mist draws in and the sky darkens around the hills. There are centuries of history here that assail you at every twist and turn in the medieval villages, and our local town of Saignon has been a settlement since the Iron Age.
We sat in the gardens here for the first time in 2001; we had not long arrived and had just heard the devastating news that the Twin Towers had fallen. So far from home and utterly shocked, we could only listen to the news in disbelief. As we sat in our tranquil setting we found it hard to think of such atrocities taking place.
Other years have seen us all facing mixed fortunes; such is the see- saw of life. We’ve planned happy weddings, celebrated the birth of various grandchildren, found ourselves seeking rest after house moves and lost people dear to us.
It is interesting to note that during our evening strolls when the sun is setting again over the fields, we discuss at some length our latest concerns and worries; what will happen about this or that, should we move/ change direction/is everyone okay? And yet can we remember what we worried about and talked about this time last year? I’m not sure we can, so I guess that must tell us something.
Whatever is happening, there are some things that never change, yet life always evolves. Sad things happen, people come and people go, hearts break a thousand times. Good things happen, babies are born, grandchildren double up with laughter and your heart bursts with love.
Through changing times the sun will still rise and set over the hills of Provence, new, younger and enthusiastic tourists will discover the delights of Bonnieux as the older ones slow their pace. But the old and well worn paths will always be here; the vines will flourish and the vats will always be filled with wine.
Au revoir until I’m back in Dove Lane
Blessings to you.