‘Home is where the heart is’, or so the expression goes. My heart is somewhat fragmented, with those I love and the places I own spread across two continents. When I’m in one place, I think of the other. I’m so often torn and confused as if there’s some divine rule book telling me I should choose just one, the one I should prefer and always want to be. Maybe my dilemma is tied up in the simple fact that my home is in two extraordinarily special locations. The fairytale village of Lourmarin, a hodgepodge of enchanting, creamy buildings huddled below a hillside in Provence and the sweeping white shores of Carmel, California, lined with its majestic cypress trees, part of a beautiful and dramatic coastline. 5000 miles apart, but both equally entwined within my heart.
I walk most days along the Carmel shoreline marveling at its ever changing drama and beauty. A spectacle of crashing waves curling up onto the shore, otters and sea lions disappearing into their frothy playground, pelicans and seagulls swopping and diving overhead.
It’s rare that at as I stroll past this Pacific jewel I don’t think of that other place, of the walks I take there and the equally mezmerising splendour of a tiny Provencal village, that so stirs my soul. In writing this post it took me a long time to select the photos, I have so many of both Carmel and Lourmarin. In either place I seem to be constantly clicking the camera shutter, trying to imprint their beauty and the emotion they evoke, hoping to ensure their image is always with me. As if I really need to do so, they’re both already firmly planted in my heart.
In a few weeks I will be returning to Lourmarin. Opening our front door, where right now the cherry trees are blossoming.
And by May, when we arrive, their boughs will be bending with an abundance of fruit.
I’ll step inside and doubtless a tear will fall before I unfasten the shutters and throw open the windows allowing the fresh air and warm Provençal sunlight to pour in.
And upstairs from our terrace, I’ll stare across the village roof tops and vow to myself that I’ll stay forever, knowing of course that I won’t, but wishing that I could.
And can you blame me? Strolling down my street to a village, that makes all of our visitors gasp and comment that they feel they’ve just stepped into a story.
We’ll stop for a coffee, having of course, purchased a baguette.
And we’ll look at each other and smile, we’re back, sipping coffee, and doubtless later a glass of rosé at Café Gaby where it’s hard working owner, Marc, will have served countless people since we were last there. We’ll breath a sigh of contentment, our memories haven’t deceived us, nothing has changed, all is as we remembered it, intoxicating and perfect.
If we’re lucky, our favorite local artist, Gérard Isirdi, will be seated behind us. Doubtless splashing a new canvas with the talented strokes of his paint brush, capturing another beautiful moment in time.
Just as he did one day for us, now over ten years ago.
Then we’ll meander up the street passing Isirdi’s Gallery, here on the left with the grey shutters.
We’ll while away the moments admiring the ancient, shuttered buildings and their clay tiled roof tops, glowing golden as they bask in the sun.
A myriad of temptation will tumble out onto the streets, most of which I’ll want to explore as my hand is pulled to stop me!
And on a Friday, market day, we’ll be thrilled that the same band, we’ve always listened to and loved, will still be there, filling the air with its lively Spanish melodies.
Tall plane trees will canopy the market stalls and we’ll fill our baskets with fresh tomatoes, lettuce radishes, cheese and fruit.
And of course, I’ll be tempted yet again, by something gorgeous that one can only buy in Provence.
Lunch will be on back on our terrace, admiring the view.
Our daily walks in Lourmarin will take us along leafy lanes where the trees bow across the road like hands clasped in expectation.
In May there will be poppies, dancing in the breeze and splashing a vibrant red across the fields.
And I’ll marvel once more at the natural light illuminating the world in a way that it only seems able to do in Provence.
We’ll dine most nights at home enjoying the bounty of the local region, with the doors wide open and our hearts overflowing.
Every so often we’ll spoil ourselves at one of the local restaurants knowing we’ll be warmly welcomed back, eating el fresco, wondering why we ever left.
And then a family will walk by and I’ll remember where I need to be and why.
Emotions will stir, I guess you can’t have it all but I’m so very blessed and forever grateful that I have so very much and two such special places I’m fortunate enough to call ‘home’.