Friday, June 1, 2012

French Friday!

So I'll admit, the reason for the post is just a wee bit selfish.

You see, I have been lucky enough to go to France three times. First time, I went with my family for a month. Second time, I lived with a family over there for a month, and the third time I went with my parents for two weeks.

Incredibly, incredibly lucky! You see, there are just so many stories that could be told from memories of badly dubbed French shows to going to a bar.

I try not to bore my friends going endlessly on about my travels to France. Still, I want to remember them; I want to preserve them. Enter, the quasi-immortal powers of the internet!

So my idea is to, every Friday, post a couple of (probably) unrelated, poorly took, pictures of France and write down a memory or two.

Where I Want To Spend The Rest of My Life

This title actually describes two places in France but I'll just talk about one today. It was just a normal day, driving through the countryside of France. We were admiring the quaint little villages, all the stone meshed together to create a dense village surrounded by fields.

It was a warm, Spring day, the sunlight spilling over the hills, dancing along the cobble sidewalks. We were on our way back to Caen, a large city about an two hours away from Paris.

Beside the road stood a little crooked sign. It pointed to the apparently unbroken forest that framed the fields, a dark script reading 'L'eglise a Thoen' written upon it. On a whim we decided to stop. We stood there, shielding the bright sun, unsure of what to do next.

Then, we spotted a little break in the trees, a little muddy path that looked more like a deer path than one intended for humans. Shrugging that off, we started out, trading the warm fields for the cool forest. The path was pure mud, and took us steeply down the hill. It became easier to just agree with gravity, and dash down the path rather than try to walk slowly.

Our dash eventually ended as the path straightened out to a level field.

We passed the remenets of an old stone wall. It had lost the fight with age, and had begun to crumble under the weight of years. Eventually, it dwindled down to only a few stones, giving us a glimpse of a beautiful meadow.

It had just rained, the drops still glistening on the grass like beads of glass that caught the light, making it dance. The sun was out in full glory, as though to erase the previous clouds. There were a couple cows, hiding under the shadow of the far trees, not trusting this new sun.

The clearest stream curved its way through this golden meadow. A wooden bridge rose over it, we climbed over it to get closer to the source of our walk. L'eglise a Thoen. The Church at (of) Thoen, for those who doesn't speak French.

The church was small, constructed of stone. It too showed the harsh effects of age; time had pounded it till the windows were gone, and stone fell from the once beautiful structure.

It was boarded up now, wood harshly blocking any entrance. There were a few signs that repairs had begun; though I didn't hold out any hope for a quick restore.

I went behind the church, jumping over a mini stream. I paused, one hand resting on a thin trunk of a new tree. The field stretched out before me like the future; the long grass waving gently in the wind. The dark green forest, cloaked in shadows, acted like a barrier.

I could live here, I thought. I could live here for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. I could give up dreams of living in a large city, teaching at a university. I could let go of all that, and settle down here.

It was an implausible dream. What would I do, sell my crops? I can't even get a flower to bloom for me-- I have no green thumb. Besides, I love astrophysics too much; I wouldn't want to give that up.

My brain altered the dream till I was working at a university in a big city, and commuting out to my little house here, in the middle of the meadow. Next to the medieval church, which holds more stories than I would ever know. How many people, like me, had come here? What was it like, when the church was first build? What did people look like-- what did they want, what did they fear?

How many people stood where I had stood, looking out over the beautiful world, and thought, 'I could live here'?

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