I ran this morning up to high lookout at the top of the next valley over from Labastide Esparbairenque. The temperature was hot even at 9 and I hadn't done a longer run in a while, but I loved every minute of it. The runs here are so refreshing that I don't want to turn around—I come back feeling better and full of hope. Beauty erupts everywhere out on the trail—vistas open around each turn. I plan to have some new shots of the trail and the views to post later.
Then a long (3 1/2 hours) French lunch was devoured by our group at Sire de Cabaret in Roqueferre—with glorious desserts and duck, lamb, entrecote, etc. I have no photos of lunch, but I think I was the only one not taking pictures. Today was a day to look ahead to our last big project of the Creative Castle class and to enjoy being in France.
In the village of books, Montolieu, Can you imagine--a village of books!
Montolieu village du livre,bouquinistes, librairie,livres d ...
Today during our hike to Cubservies, I thought it would be fun to stop and write a short impression here in this place, having these experiences.
When I was in France last fall I wrote a series of what I called "french sentences," which were merely a riff on Allen Ginsberg's American sentences—a seventeen syllable sentence with the qualities of a haiku. I was writing about what it felt like to be in this part of France.
But this time around seventeen syllables felt way too short&mdashand I set the parameters at 17 words, still with a concentration toward the qualities of a haiku.
Here's the one from yesterday:
We find the chapel after hiking steep miles, old stories pieced into walls, layer upon rocky layer.
I'm back at La Muse in beautiful Labastide Esparbairenque, France with photography professor Alex Emmons and our class of eight students enrolled in "Creative Writing and Digital Photography in Medieval France."
Today was our first chance to get out into the sunshine and explore the area. Suzanne Blons and Brandy Dohrman (right) relax on the overlook before our extraordinarily long hike.
It takes a while to get somewhere else from Labastide Esparbairenque because first you have to get out of the forest and the mountains—the roads are steep and twisty-turny and about half a lane wide. I was able to take a road trip to the medieval city of Albi, about 2+ hours to the north. Albi is the heart of the Cathar resistance to the Pope. In the 15th century the Catholic Church built this enormous red stone fortress of a catehdral to impress the church's great power upon the resistors. The cathedral is a formidable Gothic pile—the 1400's version of shock and awe.
This hand-painted ceiling in the cathedral in Albi has never been retouched. Plus, I got to see saint's skulls in the cathedral—that was a new one for me.
I also went on a whirlwind road trip to Barcelona. I had never been to Spain before. It turned out, though, that we just got to have some lunch, walk around the beautiful Born district—full of cobbled streets, little shops and parks and do a forced march to Gaudi's Sograta Familia. To the right is my buddy Jaclyn, checking the map. The forced march was not her fault!
Here I am in the Born District with pistachio gelato--my favorite!
Trail Running in Labastide Esparbairenque! I really didn't ever imagine that I would come to France and get a lot of practice running mountain trails. It turns out that this is the perfect area for high mountain, un-peopled, untrampled, awesome, endless trails.
The air is dry and clear, and the trails with southern exposure are very warm in September. Homer, the English water spaniel (I think), likes to come with me. Homer is like the wind. He runs twice as far as I do—always circling around and up into the woods, in front of me and behind me.
The views are astounding—big gorges and valleys extending through forests as far as you can see. Homer reminds me how light a body can be!