Memories of France
Sweetly scented, a distinctive musk oil fragrance floated through the sunlit air in a dance of flowing atomic rhythms finding passage through nose and skin. It lifted slumbering memories, then carried them through flashing networks of incoming and outgoing energies of thought. My entire triune nature of body, mind, and soul remembered this smell, this primal language of experiential information.
Thus, I reawakened to the watercolor memories of a sunny summer holiday in France.
Our cousin, Lori, was driving my sister, Bev, and I through the picturesque countryside of Provence where she had rented a small villa with a pool amidst the vineyards. It was a welcome change of pace from her busy life and business in Paris.
Light-hearted conversation and laughter stopped abruptly when we saw an old castle beside the quiet county road. Lori swiftly put on the brakes, then reversed direction slowly so as to get a better view of this grand relic of the past. There it was! The weathered stonework appeared like a vision yet stood solid and real. It was shadowed here and there, dappled by the proximity of old trees in full leaf. We stepped out of our modern chariot to view our discovery. The air was permeated with a sweet musk oil smell.
Layers of strange feelings washed over me. I felt like I’d come ‘home’. I could see that something similar was happening in my sister’s easily read face too. We looked at each other knowingly. It was harder to read my cousin but her face was beaming brightly.
I found myself commenting that there was something important missing from above the closed front door. Bev said she thought so as well. Lori looked at both of us with a curious, puzzled expression.
Our awareness drew us to explore one side of the castle where overgrowth of shrubs and vines and trees conspired to hide an ancient outdoor Roman ‘bath’ behind a lower exterior stone wall. We were amazed at how well it had stood up to the ages. It felt very, very old. Lori was amused when Bev and I began to talk about the great parties we used to have in and around that Roman ‘bath’. We decided to see if we could gain entrance to it through the front door of the castle where a sign had been placed to announce the day’s sale of products. That information was also missing. Undaunted, we knocked on the huge door.
A friendly inhabitant greeted us. Lori stepped forward and began inquiring about the products being made and sold. (Lori spoke with the fluency and culturally charming mannerisms and gestures of a woman born and raised in France. That linguistic and cultural transformation of the child and woman we knew so well in Canada never ceased to fascinate us.) As they spoke, Bev and I stood in the courtyard and surveyed the surrounding walls and stairs to the battlements that once had been continually guarded for the safety of those who lived there. We readily agreed that castle life in ancient days was not as romantic or glamorous or comfortable as is often depicted or aspired to. No dreams of stone-cold castles for either of us!!
Lori learned that twelve families still lived in and around the castle working to create products to sell, especially goat and cow cheeses. Off she went to buy some for us while we looked over a small inner courtyard garden. Everywhere we looked was a painting, enchanting and timeless.
No other explorations were encouraged so we politely took our leave when Lori returned shortly after. Then with several expressions of gratitude in both English and French, the three of us returned to the car and reluctantly drove away. Another layered wash of colored emotions came over me as I left the sight and smell of the past behind. Tears welled up and I felt a twinge of heartache.
Now and then, a thoughtful silence came over each of us as we slowly savoured that truly memorable fare on the drive back to the villa and the vineyards.
Neither before nor after have I ever tasted or smelled such food and air as that of the place they called Javon.
(Remembered yet again, November 16, 2014
May your Spirit shine brightly, Shelley