Friday, August 11, 2006

Gearing up for the Rentrée

It was sad to find ourselves rolling back through the hills to Lyon again almost just as soon as we'd gone, through the vacation traffic among hundreds of other sad faced, sun kissed travelers with their faces pasted up to the windows like specimens frozen in ice. An eye blinked and our time down south was over. But there's no reason to cling to that sorry memory of the highway! The vacation did exactly what it was supposed to do - it cleared everything out. You know when there are ideas that are swirling around like a vortex of water down the drain good mixed with the bad, and they're spinning faster and faster and impossible to catch them because they've caught up in the whirlwind and they won't be bothered to slow down fast enough for you to grasp them and take a good look at them - that's when you need a vacation. So we went.
The good things: The days we spent down south were composed of three and only three activities.

1) Sitting at the table: talking, eating, and drinking. Breakfast Lunch and Dinner slowed down to long drawn-out affairs with friends and family we only see this time of year. As we shared details and exchanged ideas about this and that while nourishing our minds and bellies, we felt the vortex slow to a kind of lazy meandering spin and our spirits breathed more freely with each passing day. We sometimes spent nearly all day and evening at the table, acutally. I had a chance to meet a friend from eGullet and his family, with whom we enjoyed a 4 hour lunch, and we discovered a new fish together. The fish! The fresh veggies and all of the special summer dishes we look forward to when we go down south - not a thought to preparation. Oh they sometimes take time to cook but that is all the better to sit beneath the canopy on the terace and sip rosé and have absolutely nothing planned.

2) Biking. We put over a hundred miles on the bikes in the days after my birthday, biking along the excellent pistes along the Mediterranean coast. The distances were duly counted by the super gift Loic gave me, a combination wireless heart rate monitor, odometer, spedometer, timer, that based on a number of details I entered into the initial settings was also able to determine the calories I burned. It recorded everything. It was a shamefully expensive gift but it has added a great sense of tangibility to the project I have started to discover the Rhone Valley by bicycle, and viewing my progress on a chart that is downloaded from the watch into the computer gives me a real sense of accomplishment.

The summer project of discovering everything I can between Vienne and Valence is inevitably going to trail into Autumn. The heat wave that stopped me from biking after 9AM in July, but after the devoted bike training both in the early mornings in Lyon and on vacation I feel in much better shape now to tackle the hills and mount into the vines. Autumn is gorgeous in the Rhone Alpes Region, so there's nothing at all to regret about extending the project.

3) Beach. We discovered 4 new beaches within a day's bike ride and learned their quirks and personalities. We fell in love with each one for something different: one being the fine sand and beautiful rolling waves, another the gorgeous typical views of the glowing stones and pines growing like perfect towers or constrasting canopies at pretty angles like they only do on the Cote d'Azur, another for the adventurous hiking trails that snake along the rocks just waiting for us to discover them, another for the gorgeous underwater views we enjoyed with our snorkeling masks. The waves broke on the beach and our tensions seemed to be drenched and pulled out to sea along with the water and weeds. We silently allowed the sun to nourish us in reasonable enough doses that everyone smiled and asked where we'd been when we came back home. In discovering all of these other beaches, we also came to appreciate our regular beach. Our regular beach really is the best one after all and we spent the last couple of days there.

That was it. We did nothing else. I barely took any pictures except of babies and the postcards, and certainly did not write a single word except a grocery list.

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Blogger Jen in NH said...

ooooh, that is just heavenly. the writing, the images, the ideas! winter in New Hampshire being what it is...I thank you for this lovely dose of summer sunshine and heatwave languor.


9:48 PM, February 04, 2009  

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