Finding my country digs in the Auvergne felt a bit like Cameron Diaz arriving at her Cotswolds cottage in
The Holiday. The only difference being, I was driving myself in a Fiat, rather than being chauffeured in a Mercedes. Many winding roads and a snowy lane led me to my rambling, well-worn enclave of house, gardens, atelier/barn and chapel.
After settling in and sharing conversation a lovely boeuf bourguignon dinner by candlelight with my hosts, I climbed into a bed stacked with double duvets to ward off the crisp chill in my room. This cold I remembered from my early college years living in a farmhouse heated by pot-belly stoves and my first Christmas with Jim, when we returned to my century home from Columbus in a snow storm to discover the furnace broken. That night, with a mattress pulled to the massive fireplace and dog and cat to keep us warm, I wondered if my rustic solution would be the end of Jim.
Last night, I realized I’m on the pilgrim route of St. Jacques de Compostelle again. This winter in France trip has become an unexpected spiritual journey of sorts. Being far from my people, props and comforts of daily life in Akron has forced open my palm to receive a stranger’s gentle offering that most Americans are rather shallow. That arrow in my heart released its truth quicker than I could refute it. And as I drifted off to sleep, I could see my misplaced priorities as if they were reflected in the lake below.