Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Archangel Feast

Wednesday 29th September 2010: Marseillette FR.
If I was back in the UK, still working at the school, today would have been a very busy day - the Feast Day of St Michael, Raphael and Gabriel - The archangels. I wonder what they are doing today. But I am not there and things go on regardless in my absence. You remember the first time when things are different, the next time you don’t have that memory, until there are only a few times when someone will say ‘Do you remember when…’ I know, I said it many times. I suppose when you work in a place like that for many years you are bought to make an impact on things. I know that ultimately I did and I did make my mark. But leave I had to, to make my mark on aspects of my life I had, up until now, only ever dreamt of. It’s like my writing. Having gone to creative writing classes for a year, I had the confidence to say that I was good at what I was doing. It took me time to share mind you. It was only in the safe nest of my writing buddies, and our teacher that I grew enough to take those first tentative steps. It was a good time.So am I a writer? I write, so therefore I suppose I am a writer. Have I published anything or received any money for my writing? No, so does that make me any less of a writer. I know I was a teacher because I did it and I got paid.  I know I am a runner because I can put on my gear and start running and have run in a few races. If you do something, then does that mean that you are it? Maybe it is the length of time you spend at something. I am not a builder, even if I spend a day cutting up wood, but over time, if I practise my craft, then I shall be one. So I suppose I am a writer, and for now, my dreams are to write whilst looking over a lake, the white curtains swaying in the gentle evening breeze as my laptop keys are pressed rhythmically, or listening to the water lap at my toes whilst my pencil scribbles furiously with an idea that is all consuming.
Today, we left the warmth of the apartment of Marseillette to drive an hour away to Peyrolles, to see some beautiful Gorges of Galamus and have a picnic for lunch and a BBQ for supper. We arrived, with our friend and her boyfriend to the vast mountainous range after another hour of curving along the French villages and towns. The view was truly amazing, and the Snail could only take us so far because of the width and height of the road ahead. After parking up and enjoying our picnic, we set off for the sunlit afternoon walk. The view was incredible, although a little scary. Every now and then the Pilot would take me by the hand and lead me to the edge where the sheer drop was intense. I held onto my hat and sunglasses for fear that they would drop down to be lost forever in the valley below us. The road curved around and we saw cars driving tightly against the mountain side and pass other cars in the opposite direction with care. I have a fear of driving along roads like this. I remember a few weeks ago being petrified as we drove from Italy to Saint Andre les Alpes. With every car that approached up, I imagined skidding and plunging over the cliff to our deaths. Cheery though isn’t it? When you have to think about this at every curve, and there are about a million, it is enough to turn my legs to jelly and I would rather walk than be subjected to this trauma. But endure it I do, with the occasional stroke of the hand and kind word from the Pilot, I can get through to the other side.

We continue along this road for a while longer, walking and stopping to admire the view. My friend then tells me that she has a secret for me, and although I try to persuade her to tell me, she doesn’t. We split up from the boys and she takes me to steps which seem to descend underground. I relish the fact that this adventurous act will bring me somewhere wondrous. It does.

At the bottom of the stairs is a tiny chapel dedicated to St Antoine. I look about me and see my favourite lady, my namesake, and see St Bernadette kneeling before her. The kneeling girl has cobwebs nestled in her face and hands and I wipe them away carefully before planting a kiss on her head. I wonder if this will continue to protect me, but I do this regardless of the outcome. There is also another statue of a woman gazing into a mirror with a blindfold on, and I wonder who this is and what the sculpture represents. Before long, I am lead into the chapel and spend some time in quiet contemplation. I leave and rub the foot of St Anthony of Padua. It’s a thing I always do as I think of my mum when I do this. We leave by the same steps because it is closing time and the man in charge holds a 2 ft key in his hand and I think he is eager to get home.

As we approach the Snail, The Pilot spies some fish and wonders how easy they would be to catch. They are just sitting in the pool and not really moving about. He takes his fishing gear and bite we bought on Monday to see how successful he can be. After catching one, the rest of them continue to look at him and his rod, don’t really move away, but are not really enticed. Maybe they wanted a different worm? Anyway, with our one fish for supper, and the thought that night is slowly approaching, we travel back through back to Peyrolles.

We are told that we are passing Rennes-les-bains, and that there is a hot spring that falls there. It is slowly approaching night and we walk to the spa in the night whilst avoiding bats displaying their flying overhead. I keep moving after listening to a story about how one person was hit in the back by a flying bat, obviously their radar system failed them at the crucial moment. We are led to the place to bath, and the Pilot, who had already changed into his swimming gear steps from rock to rock before stripping off and bathing himself in the hot waters.  Knowing that I am still getting over my cold, I am reluctant to enter the bath fully, so decide that my feet will receive the spa treatment instead. The water was deliciously warm in the cold night air. I watched as the Pilot placed his head under the flowing hot water and how it splashed around his shoulders and chest. It was a glorious sight, I can tell you. I’m sure it didn’t take me a couple of seconds to pull out my camera and capture this memory. I am only sad that the battery ran out as he was getting dressed and I only managed to get a back view. But it was enough! It made my night! Who wouldn’t want their man frolicking half naked in the moonlight? He told me that he would have done exactly the same thing if I had been in the water, so I suppose we both have that in common! Anyway, enough of that!

We drove back to Peyrolles, where we shared a most wonderful BBQ together. We had roasted leg of lamb which had been seasoned and marinated. It tasted wonderful and with the roast potatoes, vegetables and sauce that went with it, it was sublime. I was stuffed, but managed to fit more in. So much for reaching the end of my belt, I think it will all go back on again after this meal!

All in all, it was an angelic end to an angelic feast day. And feast we did!

No comments:

Post a Comment