As I write this, I am sitting in a room in a house in Saint Rémy de Provence that is wrapped in stone on three sides. The beautifully restored houses of this area, the winding streets, shady spots filled with fountains, boutiques, children playing and people enjoying a leisurely coffee sitting in cafes, capture the true essence of Provence. I have spent the last two days in this quaint but vibrant French town with my beautiful friend, Cheryl. After spending the last five weeks as a solo traveler, exploring new towns with someone has been such a joy. We are saddened though because our friend Terri had picked staying in this town and she wasn’t able to join us. Sharing what I have been uncovering and how my adventures have unfolded with a close friend have filled my heart with joy. She has offered great support and insight that has opened new avenues of thinking for me. The essence of a true friend.
Saint Rémy de Provence is filled with history and is the oldest archeological site in Europe. Vincent Van Gogh spent time here in 1889 and yesterday we walked through the grounds that inspired many of his famous paintings. As we walked the trails, lined with the same olive trees and wildflowers depicted in Van Gogh’s paintings, we were the only ones there. The peace, serenity and beauty was breathtaking. With one mountain directly in front us during our walk, I was reminded of the glory that surrounded me in Colorado. Being in the mountains brings me peace and grounds me. It helps me realize that even though as humans we go through times of immense pain, struggle, joy and happiness, so does the mountain see changing seasons, rising temperatures, snow collect on its peaks and then melt as the sun warms its surface. Unfazed by these dramatic changes unfolding around them.
In three days, I will celebrate my 50th birthday in Provence. A dream that I set in motion two years ago. At the time, I had no prior memory of Provence, had never visited this region of France before, but the mystic idea of Provence seemed like the perfect place to celebrate my milestone birthday. Now that I’m sitting in this magnificent region, with vast countrysides, vineyards, the Mediterranean Sea, delicious cuisine, fragrant yet simple soaps and perfumes, the idyllic Provence is a true reality. So today, Cheryl and I set off for drive to Besse-sur-Issole, a bit deeper in the southern part of the Provence region to join a group of women at the Bastide Avellanne. Here we will spend the next 7 days together and I will celebrate entering this new season of life. A season that brings grace, wisdom, discovery. I will picture those mountains that through everything stand in magnificent beauty, emanating strength, and resolve.