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It’s suddenly summer. We went from cool days with fog in the hollers

   
 To this

  
Lucky for me that the weather turned nice because I spent a few days in Pennsylvania camping, while I attended weaving classes with Sara Bixley and Tom Knisely at Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center. It was awesome. I learned so much in an Inkle Weaving and Chain Warping Class and really felt part of a weaving family. 

Here are the two inkle bands I sampled. I designed the purple one from scratch.  The pink one includes a twig from my campsite.

   

 After full days of weaving, I returned to my campsite, where I swam and walked in 90 degree temperature. I could get used to car camping. I thought I packed to excess until my neighbors arrived with tablecloths, tarps and various coolers. Where would you rather be?

Campsite 120

  
Or campsite 119?  I had espresso, popcorn and thought I was living large. 

   
 
I shipped this while I was there for a very special girl’s birthday. 

  
Now all my free time will be spent sailing and sewing a canvas “dodger” for our boat. 

and say I want to go home. I got to say this line when I played the part Glenda, the good witch, during an elementary school play. I was revelling in my stardom just a little while ago. 

And now we’re home. A little more complicated than clicking our heels. Our return flight included some security issue in Paris and all the passengers had to deplane with their belongings so the could search the plane. The last time this happened to me was 9/4/2001. Boy how times have changed since then. 

My idea of souveniers has changed too. I have little piles of rocks, shells and feathers from around the world. Here are my newest additions.

  
The snail shells were from the scariest part of the hike at Navacelles, the smooth round rock was from near the abbey in Sommiers and the gray rock was from St. Guilhelm le desert.  Soon they will just be part of the pile. 

Then there are my jars. We had homemade quince jam in this adorable little mason jar and spicy mustard in the elegant shaped jar. I knew they were coming home with me when I saw them. They will be a great reminder. 

  
The cats liked their market baske, which will remind me of our daily shopping adventures for baguettes, pastries, irridescent strawberries and wine. 

  
I know that souvenier means to remember because our Canadian neighbors’ licence plates say, “Je me souviens”, I remember.

And today I went to work next to a much newer, albiet pretty, church on a lake. 

  
I will remember and cherish our trip to Languedoc but it’s good to be home. 

Slip (ups)?

The rain abated and we headed out for another walk on a mountain that overlooks a manmade lake. Our first mistake was not bringing lunch and the town, Liausson, had no restaurant or market. Off we went to Octon to a creperie for a bowl of cider (lap it up) and crepes. Then back we came and headed into the hills. 

   
   
All was well for so much of the hike.  When we teached the top, we could see another lilliputian town on the other side of the mountain, the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Why, we could even see Spain from our backyard. 

   
 
Look at that smile. So happy. 

  
Until…we reached a shaded, canted, steep, slippery section on our descent. Let’s just say I didn’t like it one bit. In fact I had a “little” panic attack and Tim had to talk me off the cliff, so to speak, with me gripping his arm as I slipslided away. 

But descend we did with only a little butt sliding on my part. 

I shouldn’t have complained about toilets lacking seats since we encountered this one. 

  
In full disclosure we also found one with a padded seat. Not too bad when there’s no central heat. 

Then we were invited to a friend of our proprietors’ to settle up our bill, after 7. So we ate a hearty soup I made with fresh veggies from the market and headed out. Only to find  appetizers, local wine and a seafood stew bubbling in the pressure cooker. Oops. Who knew?

Lots of clouds, drizzle or rain. Yesterday we headed to Montpelier and swam in their beautiful, somewhat crowded, 50 m pool. 

They have these nifty little hanger baskets for shoes, which must come off before entering the locker room, and outerwear.

  
Then we walked around the city. As did lots of others with colorful umbrellas. Our drive home on freeways was a little unnerving because we (I the navigator) headed off in the wrong direction more than once.

  
The cathedral is gianormous. 

 

  
Today was still drizzly and we took another city excursion to Sommiers, with a bridge from Roman times still in use. And black swans just like Tasmania. 

   
   
We found a nice walk up into the hills which allowed us to work off our crepes. 

We heard of a poppy field just outside Aniane and Tim found it on our way home. 

   
 
It reminded me of the beautiful tulips we saw in Amsterdam during our six hour layover and visit with old friends. I was too jetlagged to remember my camera though. 

Oh yes!  Why don’t french public toilets have seats?! 

  

Tim has been focusing on the flowers that seem to grow on air from the old walls, bromiliads?

   
   
I’m impressed with the variety of graffiti. 

   
    
 

Then I hit a communication wall. I needed a haircut. I went to the salon with Tim and his friend, Patrick, who is fluent in french. I had to wait until Friday so they made it clear it needed to be long enough for a ponytail. 

 I even had this phrase on my phone, “J’aimerais bien garder les longueurs afin de pouvoir les mettre dans le queue de cheval si vous plait.”  You can translate it but it politely asks to keep it long enough for a pony tail. Day of the haircut I felt like an animal at the vet. Until an english song came on the radio, “I’m too drunk to f••k”. Good thing she and her customers didn’t speak english! Here’s the song.

   
 

Where are we?

We cannot read the hiking maps. An easy walk turned into a 5.5 hour moderately difficult hike. Thank goodness we met a couple from the Isle of Skye, equally confused, who shed some light on where we might be.I became extremely quiet and stated an absolute turnaround time but we confirmed our location before we needed to turn around. 

The trail numbers are variable, Tim thinks he’s got it now, I remain dubious. But the sights, which cannot be captured by camera, were spectaculor. 

We could see our little village of Aniane way off in the distance.  

 We were even higher than the other day. I was surprised when some mountain bikers rode up the trail. 

  Some parts of the road were built more than a thousand years ago and were better than any Adirondack trail.   

We enjoyed some fresh spring water and a cold beer at the end of the hike and all was well with the world.

   
 

Walk the walk

  I’ve had an inkling that I would like to make a pilgramage to Compestello along “the way”.  It turns out we are staying in a town along  one of the paths, specifically GR653.  So we walked 4.7 miles to the next town, St. Guilhem le Desert, along the route today. It was spectacular and moving. We walked from one Abbey to the next on a path that has been followed for perhaps a thousand years.

We lacked the accoutrements of a pilgram: no staff or scallop shell.   

Instead I had a camera.  We crossed a beautiful bridge built in the year 800 AD.  Unfortunately, a good part of the walk was along a busy road but a path came and went along the river L’Herault.

  
Once in the village, we spotted a side path and began along it. It looked like it might take us to the top of a mountain where we saw the ruins of a fortress or wall and away we went. It was a well graded cobblestone path for most of the way until it wasn’t.  

  
That’s our destination at the top of the mountain. 

I almost chickened out before the last ascent until I found a path I could handle.

We enjoyed the windy views, then had a beer and coffee in the village square. We decided to take a 10 minute bus back to our apartment. Much easier. 

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