Mom’s First Impressions

October 24, 2011

Following is my first guest contributor to this blog about the beauty of distractions.  In it Mom gives her first impressions of life in a foreign place with fresh eyes. Fresh because France is new to her, but fresh also because traveling and adventuring were not priorities in her life up to now. It’s a truly new perspective that, be forewarned, might lead to a mood for travel in yourself! Enjoy, and look forward to more thoughts from this new-wise traveler.  




 Text and photos by Marian Sumner


Quelle belle journee!! What a beautiful

day to be old and new at the same time.  Being mature, as they
delicately call us retirees… experiencing new adventures, all in a
new country… constantly identifying the new while automatically
searching for the familiar… struggling with a new language…
building a new comfort zone, I feel alive!

One of my first impressions that I
find to be intricately laced into the everyday life of Sorede is the
creative way the French use every square inch of space wisely. The
awareness was immediate upon parking the car and walking to my new
home. I followed Avery and Alain through narrow paths
that felt like hidden, secret shortcuts, but were actually public
pathways.  I wondered how you knew you weren’t walking up to
someone’s doorstep.

Would you have known the path to the left was a public pathway?

There are no wasted square corners
here. Nothing is square, in fact. Not houses, streets, paths, ANYTHING. Even
my room has a wall at an angle with a slanted ceiling. When you add
hills, steps (even curving steps), terraced buildings, pedestrian
streets as tunnels through buildings, with angles, curves, and points
everywhere, it can be confusing.

Building taken from the bottom

Same building from the top. The stairs are sandwiched between the two rooftops. And yes, this was taken from our rooftop patio, another fine use of space.

I went for a walk alone (after
walking with Avery twice and feeling like I knew several paths around
our apartment) and I had to retrace my steps to get back. Didn’t want
to get lost and risk walking a 4 mile maze to go around the
equivalent of several blocks. (Actually, there is no word in French
for “block”, as in directions to go around the block. There is
literally no block.) It is very rewarding, though, when you figure it

Cars are parked in the tiniest places.

Even the birds find nooks and crannies to use.

I find it intriguing how beauty and
ownership are created with such things as color, potted plants, and
decorative design on buildings. There are no yards to speak of within
the inner village to designate property boundaries.

There is not a lot of which I am sure,
given my infant status as a small town American in France, but of this I am
quite certain. Walls are embedded in the culture of France, and they are everywhere.  Apparently they are not at all considered rude as the perception might be with a wall in the US. A house without a wall, which is rare, feels like it is exposed.  A wall may provide privacy, keep in children or pets, define property lines, screen for wind or snow, or just be an artistic feature in space. Each one is unique. Walls are a study unto themselves: clever, enchanting, creative, stylish, mundane, functional…  always intersting.

I am now walking some of the trails just outside Sorede, one of which goes through La Vallee Heureuse. Heureuse means “happy” so I took it as one of my vocabulary words.  Je suis heureuse ici. I am happy here.


5 Responses to “Mom’s First Impressions”

  1. Melissa Brumbaugh-Sudduth said

    It’s good to hear from you. But most of all, it’s good to hear that you are happy. I’m glad. Melissa Brumbaugh, Young Harris, GA

  2. Kathy Guest said

    How wonderful, Marian!!

  3. Glad you are sharing my new adventure, Kathy.

  4. Alys Richards said

    You sound revitalized! Learning something new, pushing the envelope of our comfort zone, tends to do that to a person. La vie est belle pour nous deux.

    Ton ami,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: