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.
The angels on the grand entry to the Cathedrale of Ste.-Cecile have never flown with their burdens. (French sentence).
We had a beautiful day to explore the Cite (the medieval town) of Carcassonne. I hadn't visited the cathedral inside the Cite in the fall, so I appreciated having a tour led by Maria with the class this time.
We have been so fortunate with the weather during our stay in France. The air is dry, warm and fragrant (in a good way). I might even say we've been blessed.
John Fanning, who owns La Muse with his wife Kerry, let us in the ancient chapel today. This is a beautiful, peaceful space—it calms a person right down. This is John meditating in the chapel.
Today was also the book swap in La Muse's library. All of the students brought wonderful gifts to leave.
Alex Emmons, Aaron, Alex and I had a little adventure in the course of finding a place to buy bread and some necessities—we hit the epicerie in Mas Cabardes at just the time when it was closed and tooled up to Mazamet instead.
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.
Today we drove up the mountain north of St. Julien to do LAND ART with the artist Christophe Eppe. Homer couldn't come with us. He would have been in the way.
Two of our sculptures began as spheres and then collapsed. It was a little discouraging. On the left, Christophe checks out our ultimately successful rock egg. On the right, Jaclyn, Christophe, and me after all of us completed the egg.
La Muse in Labastide Esparbairenque
Even the flight attendant on my Air France flight who was from the Languedoc had trouble pronouncing the name of the town which was my destination. But after missing my first flight to Toulouse, then barely making my train to Carcassonne, I was picked up at the train station by John Fanning, the director of La Muse. La Muse is a Writer's and Artist's Retreat in the Aude "department" in the Languedoc region of Southern France.
I was so pleased to be given a residency here. The above left is the hallway to my room, while the right shows the street side of La Muse. To the immediate left is the back, which faces the valley. When the weather is warm, the patio is a great place for dinner. The town is in the middle of the "Black Mountain" region, basically in the middle of a huge chestnut and pine forest—no one ever knows what part of France I am talking about when I try to describe it. Check it out on the map!
Welcome to Southern France, where for the next two and a half weeks I am at La Muse Artists' and Writers' Retreat in the Languedoc village of Labastide Esparbairenque. I am lucky to be on a sabbatical from my job as a writing professor at Central Washington University and very lucky to be here at La Muse right now.
My friend in the photo above, Homer, La Muse's pet spaniel, has been accompanying me on my long runs on the mountain roads that surround the village. I will be blogging about poetry, writing, running, food, animals and other loves of my life. There will be a daily poem and a running journal. Say hello!