29 January 2007

France: The Lot Valley in April

Often after a big meal, my husband and I walk. We find ourselves doing this around the holidays, especially, and on the few winter nights that are considered warm by Wisconsin standards.

We don’t do it nearly as much as we should, of course.

What always strikes me about our walks is how quiet it is, especially this time of year when sound travels differently.

There is something very satisfying about silence after a meal. It’s as though eating is a ritual that requires silence to be properly digested, or appreciated.

Maybe it is.

In the tiny Quercy village we visited in France, we walked one evening. There was a smattering of rain for two days, but on the second it cleared up at suppertime. After our meal, we trekked down to the village to toss our kitchen refuse bag in the poubelle near the church.

Save for a motorbike cutting through the spring evening, the land was silent. Everything seemed to be at rest.

Somehow the quiet accentuated the oldness of the place, the old stone fences and the old stone houses, some with dovecotes, others with towers, all with terra cotta-tiled roofs.

The sun, a bit wan after the rain, infused the buildings and the countryside with a warm glow, like a benediction.

A late April night has a certain smell that accompanies the silence, a fertile, waiting smell. There was a chill, too, for even a balmy night is accompanied by a certain coldness that rises as the sun lowers.

This was the last such night, for the next day, the weather turned, and for the next week or so, France enjoyed temperatures in the 80s.

That place, that moment in time, was a gift, unmatched by the usual touristy things people do when they travel.

There is no better way to know a place than to be there and listen to its silence.

11 comments:

cityfarmer said...

That silence would be this evening....fresh fallen snow...quietly crunching underfoot...the distant quwwwwwaak of a mallard over on the river...and the streetlights that illuminate during a snowfall...

We live one block from a footbridge that connects two minute villages and a walk on a snowing eve is a real treat...somtimes we stop and kiss on the footbridge with snow piling up on our heads.

Mimi said...

How lovely, City Farmer! I can hear it. . .

Lydia said...

Our log house in the woods is a quiet place -- we're set back from the road, no street noise, no neighbors. With snow on the ground, even a little bit, the quiet is absolute. I never understood the phrase "the quiet is palpable" until I moved here. Now I cherish the silence here. It's a wonderful place to write, and to cook.

Mimi said...

I think that would be lovely, Lydia. I am envious.

My neighborhood is not usually silent. It is a small hill above a river. There was an old polo park here for the lumber barons, and an old college. The houses are a mix of Victorian, Prairie, Craftsman and ranch. They are packed fairly close to each other, although we are on a corner with a lot and a half and on a hill to boot. People are always coming and going. But sometimes on winter nights . . .

Christine said...

Wonderful post Mimi. You write just how I feel about France!

Mimi said...

Oh, Christine, I thought of you as I posted this!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The silence you & the others bring out is most beautiful and the kind I relish. A true magic moment.
The most dismal silence is the silence of the internet when I laugh and the other doesn't hear it.

Mimi said...

I think I can understant that, Tanna.

Terri said...

What a gorgeous photo. It instantly transported me back to the French countryside.
I agree about the silence following a good meal. It seems to enhance it somehow.

christine said...

What a lovely lovely post. You made me feel as if I were really there. And now I want to be there too! :)

Mimi said...

Christine, it's a perect place to satisfy your wanderlust. Perfect — it's not far from where the film "Chocolat" was made.

I love your blog!