Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My black silk balaclava under my black wool cap makes a striking fashion statement (think in the direction of Kathyrn Hepburn's headwear as Queen Elinor of Aquitaine in the Lions of Winter). Functional against the -5° (uh... multiply by 9, divide by 5, subtract from 32 = 23°F) temperature and the wicked headwind that made my eyes tear. No matter, plenty of cafés to warm up in. 'Quelle motivé!' one woman shouted to me as the wind whipped the door back when I stepped back out into the street. The cold air's got to be blown out to make room for the warmer air behind it, right? How long can wind last? Okay, there are moments when winter seems a poorly chosen season - where's that global warming??
The heavy quilts of the chambre d'hôte make for warm thoughts. Christmas fairs in every village, decorations in houses and town squares, kids daring each other to climb trees and harvest the perfect spheres of mistletoe (called 'guy' in French) (It's something of a snipe hunt - they only look like perfect spheres; once they're cut away piece by piece, they just collapse leaving some kids laughing and others crying.) Anyway, these are all time-dependent sights that I enjoy.
Just after sunrise the other day, I was deterred from the blustery icy wind to stop and check my map to find the shortest route to a village that might be large enough to have a café with a restroom and cup of tea. A-hah! through the mist, a small chapel at a crossroads - would the door be unlocked? would there be a candle for heat?? Yes! a moment's refuge, though lacking a seat. No matter, it served my purpose. Who built this place and for what purpose I'll never know, but I appreciate it immensely. I left a 20-cent piece for the candle and stepped back into the wind, then turned back and fished a sketchbook out of my pack for a quick drawing. The water in my little box was frozen solid, so painting color into it would have to wait.
Did the builder of the little chapel foresee a future traveller's need? Merci pour la motivation!