Turning a Corner

December 22, 2010

I’ve turned a big corner in life—right onto party street. Really, my new permanent address (term to be used lightly) is 27 Rue des Fetes. Life on the street of festivals sounded like a smart turn to make so here I am.

Party Street!

After spending the month of November in the US, I’m happy to be back in France for the long haul. I’ve returned equipped with my long term visa and a three year lease on an apartment. As Christmas approaches Alain and I are getting settled (collecting under-five-euro pieces of vintage furniture) and I’m feeling much better about this whole life in France thing. I feel like I’m supposed to be here right now, like the village we’ve settled in will be the start of a new era for us.

We’ve left the bustling little town where we’d found a temporary rental and moved a little bit deeper into the mountains. If you climb high enough you can still see the Mediterranean, so it’s the same scenery, just a little more remote.

Aside from our street name, there are other signs that this is the place for us. The famous GR10 (hiking trail that crosses the Pyrenees linking Mediterranean Sea to Atlantic Ocean) comes right through our town. It’s not like how the Appalachian Trail goes through Hiawassee in North Georgia (you have to hitchhike into town from the AT). Here, the GR10 comes right into our village, crosses the river and heads up into the cliffs on the other side. The village is nestled in tight between high ridges and distant peaks with a real river flowing through. It’s not a stonemason banked canal like so many rivers and creeks in France seem to be, but a wild and rocky mountain stream.

Our river.

Our village.

From the chair where I sit as I write this, a 9th century abbey’s bell tower looks in through our “french” doors. The abbey has served ascetics and spiritual pilgrims for over a millennium and I sense a monastic tranquility having it as a neighbor.

Our French doors.

What I really like about the village though, is that it’s surrounded by natural beauty, yet it’s not overly touristed. Like my old home in the everglades, this place takes a unique spirit to appreciate it. There are no gentrified shops or chic bistros. It’s really kind of shabby in ways. But there’s life here; movement, children and vegetable gardens. It’s the kind place where artists hide.

Eggs for sale.

Sauntering through the neighborhood.

Winter garden plots under morning sun.

Alain, Lilly and I went for a short walk today in surprisingly warm December air. I was in short sleeves, thinking this to be the best sign of all, when I noticed a tiny bird’s nest on the ground. I picked it up and examined the craftsbirdship. Very fine brush and horsehair had been woven into a circle for the frame. And down inside was a soft bed evenly lined with someone’s fuzzy fur, maybe a cow or donkey’s winter fuzz, maybe even sheep’s wool. I took this as the final sign that I’ve chosen an appropriate place to nest…for now.

(note: on real time now, no more backed up entries)

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One Response to “Turning a Corner”

  1. Kate & John said

    Avery & Alain,
    So glad to hear you’re both doing well. We missed you in November. I love your writing and look forward to hearing more about your travels and adventures.
    All the best.

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