28, May 2012
Is there anything quite as sweet as opening your calendar to blank squares? Days of them. Weeks, actually. Nothing. No obligations, meetings, events, dental appointments, useless cocktail parties, errands, pap smears, funerals…It’s down to the basics now: shop for food, cook it, eat it. Hang the laundry on the line. Time to take new roads and let go of old thoughts.
We’re in Bonnieux for a week or so before meandering down to Tuscany for the rest of the summer. We’re staying in the exquisite studio apartment next to the one we spent two months in last autumn when we were gathering the last morsels for our Provence book. Our friends, Sharon and Paul, slaved all winter to make this piece of heavenly perfection, thus we have christened it, Bliss.
From it’s tall window, now open to the early evening, I watch the cypress tree which, if you position yourself just so, stands in the middle of the frame; an exclamation mark that needs no point. I am mesmerized by its erect posture; a stalwart column, the spine of which is hidden inside the flesh of its upwardly directed branches, branches that are also hidden inside the soft clusters of needles so that the whole tree seems to undulate in the breeze.
This combination of sturdiness and fluidity speaks deeply to me; a message from nature as to how best to exist in the world. I am grateful for its presence and could have used such a reminder last week. Maybe then I wouldn’t have focused on negativity like a spoiled child who, in the demand for perfection, holds onto resentment for not being instantly gratified.
We spent the week in Sanaray-sur-Mer, an authentic fishing village on the French Riviera. We spent a day and a night there last spring and fell in love with it, so were looking forward to returning. I was dreaming of a week overlooking the sea, sunning and writing, while Joel busied himself with the PhotoMed Festival and the installation of his exhibition in Toulon. Ah, the folly of expectation.
Our hotel overlooked a parking lot and a highway. I sulked for days. And nature’s message that week was basically ‘f–k you, and take this.’ It rained nonstop for the first 3 days. I’m talking rain that, because combined with a vicious mistral, renders an umbrella useless. To venture out is to be drenched from head to toe in 30 seconds. So I didn’t venture out. In my – I thought – superbly economical packing (one big suitcase for nearly 4 months) I omitted socks and boots. Mais biensur….summer on the French Riviera and Tuscany. Who-da-thunk?
But, as we know, nothing is forever. And so the rain eventually stopped, the sun came out, the festival began, Joel’s exhibition was a huge success, as were our 2 presentations, from our Provence book.
We dined in a vineyard beneath a lilac sky; boated to the tiny island of Bendor where we snuck away from everyone and sunned naked on a rock overlooking a boat-free sea.
We also discovered a little back street Patisserie in Sanaray, with 2 outside tables, which served the finest croissant and perhaps the best cappuccino in France, liberally laced with dark chocolate. And so we spent our last few breakfasts there, having first stopped in the hotel’s breakfast room to swipe a couple of bananas and hard boiled eggs. These moments of discovery when traveling are, for us, the finest gifts. They place us, ground us, and put the perspective back in reality.
And so the week passed. We gave our last presentation on Saturday afternoon, packed the car and, armed with a rotisserie chicken, a ficelle, and the making of an organic salad, pointed the car toward Bonnieux and an empty calendar.