It’s mid May and its snowing at home in Wroxeter, Ontario. I am in Marseilles, France, near the airport, preparing for departure. I thought I would sneak some rays of sunshine -I have not sat in the sun this whole trip. I rarely do. It’s 21°C, and the wind is blowing at 45km/h. I did not last out there for very long, but it was a nice idea!
I learned many things on this trip, and I still have much to report. Today, I summarize a couple of my more personal discoveries. This trip has confirmed how much I dislike cities and how I very much belong in the countryside! I already said this 2 posts ago! I spent a week in the countryside of Aveyron and it was wonderful. I almost filled an exercise book (un cahier d’exercise) with writings, which would have taken a whole class to fill once upon a time. It is full of my ideas for my Nuffield study, which will come out in bits and pieces here on this blog. The full report will eventually be posted on my website, if it does not become a published book first!
So I went into Marseilles and lasted in town for just a few hours. There was no place to sit anywhere so I sat on a metal pilon in the middle of the sidewalk where a constant stream of pedestrians went to and fro, got out my jackknife and had lunch. I don’t know what attracts people here; all there is are some buildings like everywhere else, icky cafés and shopping – very, very expensive shopping. I have discovered that I am only interested in Nature’s work and the work of people who work with Nature, ie. some farmers and artists. I rarely find beauty in what humans have created. I was never happy in cities on this trip, with the mobs of people, all the buses, and fake things for tourists and people who can’t help themselves but spend. This world is not real.
But I lie a bit, as I am human too! I have always wanted a Provençal tablecloth; they are called Jacquard cloth, for the man who figured out how to make the beautiful weave, and so I bought one at the market! But I visited the city because it’s the thing to do, because great things are written about them, because that is what people do when they travel. But every time I succumb ‘to the norm’, I totally don’t like being there. Do people only shop and eat? How boring! Buildings, cathedrals, castles, they all start to look the same after a while. I love the squares of Europe, or platz, or place en Français. Austria’s platz are great, but France did not know how to build them. They usually have cars going through them.
Another discovery was that my love for working with animals was also reconfirmed and I really like sheep dairy 🙂 I also noticed how much I believe in good grazing/ pasture management, because it disturbs me when I see overgrazed meadows, just like it drives a fellow scholar crazy when she sees bare dirt (a tilled or plowed field). The crimes we commit in agriculture, c’est épouvantable!
My even more important observation about my travels is that it is the people we meet that make the trip, not the sights we see. Beauty can be found anywhere, including close to home. But special people are harder to find and I have been very fortunate. I was received openly and generously in the two places where I stayed for a length of time, like I have never experienced before. I can now say that I have new family in Transylvania and wonderful grandparents in Aveyron. It was really hard to say goodbye both times. I have never felt so at home in someone else’s space before. Thank you for enriching my life. Merci de m’avoir enrichie. Köszönöm.