Just One Scene

Stephen and I have been walking the trail around the village for the last few months, down from the top of the hill, around the circumference of the valley below Pujols, then back up to the top, and on once again into the village. The walk takes about an hour and offers a healthy combination of up and down stretches, along with wooded segments that open onto hills and fields, which held mainly sunflowers when we first arrived.

Yesterday, Stephen’s back hurt, so I walked our trail alone. It was a beautiful fall day, warm but not too hot, with a gentle breeze, and since we will be leaving in about a week, I slowed down, curbing my speed more than usual during the downhills, and stopping every once in a while to appreciate the vistas. And each time, I was generously rewarded.

Emerging from the cool shade of the woods into the sunlight, the warmth of the sun embraced me, and when I squinted up into the blue dome of the sky above me, the sun looked like a child’s drawing: a huge bright yellow orb, with spikes of yellow light all around it. The clouds as well looked like a child’s drawing, white and fluffy, splashing across the blue.

The fields here, unlike those in the States, make a patchwork of bright green, tan, and brown, every few bordered by a copse of deep green trees. The fields closest to me have already been cleared of the sunflower debris, and lightly furrowed, in preparation for fall planting. Looking down and out at this vista, the sun warming me, the breeze playing around my face, I both observed and absorbed all that surrounded me. At the same time that I existed outside the scene, I felt a part of this scene that had become so familiar over the past months.

I began to feel sad about leaving all of this behind, even though I am anxious to return home to see family. I stood for several moments, allowing the sadness to infuse me. And then I realized that I was thinking much too large. I needed to stop thinking that I was leaving all of this behind, and understand instead, that by gazing at this moment of French countryside, I was in fact giving it to myself. By appreciating and absorbing all that I was seeing and feeling—the air, the sky, the colors, the fields, the sun, the breeze, the trees—it would remain with me, allowing me, whenever I missed France, to evoke this very moment.

And that is just what I’m certain I will do. As soon as the excitement of being back in Berkeley has subsided, I’ll take a minute or two to bring this very moment back into my consciousness. It will emerge slowly, bit by bit—the sun, the fields, the trees, the breeze—and within a few minutes, I will be back in France, standing at this very spot, where I can remain as long as my heart desires.


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