Intimacy with another country is ripened by pleasures but also by loneliness and error. It is nurtured through long wet winters as well as radiant days.
–Shirley Hazzard, Italian Hours
It’s been quite a while since I have had the time to write or share any photos on the website- things have been busy over the past few months. Needless to say, I have plenty of stories and photos to share! I should have regular internet access coming soon, so expect to have some new updates on the way…
. . . . .
One year has passed since I drove from Germany in a rickety old Renault truck, bound for my tiny village in France. It has been a wonderful ride- I have made life-long friends, followed a longstanding dream, overcome many obstacles, and fallen to others. But through all the cold, the rain, the sunshine, the good food, the up and the downs, I wouldn’t trade a day of the last year for anything else.
I could never imagined that when I first walked into Le Vignaud over seven years ago (!) that I would one day come back to experience it in the way that I now know it. I know every footpath, many trees, the fields, and the lake better than any others in any other place in the world. This little village has become my home more than any other place has ever been. The people here have become more than friends, they have a permanent part of my family. They have helped me in ways that I could never have hoped for or expected. It’s a hard feeling to describe…
There have likely been as many hard times here as good ones. Many cold, lonely nights. Lots of worries, lots of aggravations, lots of heart break. But along with all of those difficulties have been many wonderful sunny afternoons, picnics in the clover patch that we planted back in February, the satisfaction of completing many wonderful projects. All these experiences combine to form somewhat of a strange void in my memory and in my heart. There is so much emotion and mixed feelings, it can be hard to come to terms one way or another with what I have experienced here.
One thing I do know for sure, is that this past year had changed me in so many ways. I have learned and grown so much, and I am happy to see those changes. This experience will stick with me for the rest of my life, and as I have mentioned before, I hope that it is also something that has changed the lives of others as well. I have been told many times by the people here that I have made a positive impact on this little community. That is a start. But also I hope that I have at the very least provided some new questions for myself and for everyone else who has followed along; even if the answers are still vague.
This is my home… And no matter where life’s winds will blow me from here, the seeds have been planted. It will always be a part of me. The land, the people, and the lessons will follow me where ever my feet may take me next. Every time I go away, I miss this place. When I return I take a deep breath and bask in the familiar feelings and memories. My feet feel sure beneath me here; the ground they tread is welcoming…
Breathes there the man, with soul dead…
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
–Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Thank you once again to EVERYONE who has taken part in this experience. For better or worse, you have all been an incredibly important part of making it happen. I hold no regrets.