Apr 19, 2010 - Lacoste    No Comments

Sunlit Secrets

This weekend I made my first morning trip down into the valley. I woke up at 7:15 and made the hike down well before 8:30. Took my tiny jar of Skippy with me and a banana to eat while out in the morning air.

Sometimes the village is completely silent – like just now, as I walked down the cobblestone to write this. The loudest thing was my footsteps – beyond that, maybe a distant car or a rustling bird. That morning was also a silent one. There was something absolutely delightful about waking up before all my roommates, leaping out of bed at the sight of the golden light just starting to come in through the window. I had the village to myself, bathed in a gorgeous light I had not yet encountered. That was the earliest I have woken up since I’ve been here.

As I walked down the path to the valley, I felt all the Sunday slumberers were missing out on the secret of the morning. A secret preserved for early risers. My first time embarking to discover that secret brimmed with promise, but I had no specific expectations.

My feet were drenched within minutes from all the dew on the grass. The way the colors were transformed by all the little droplets – I hardly minded having wet feet. Made me a more authentic partaker of the landscape. I engaged with it on multiple levels – stooping low for humble shots, treading through tall grass, searching for the source of a stream in a bamboo thicket (that didn’t produce results). The grass was transformed into silvery greens, and a thickness hung in the atmosphere. Foggy, mysterious. The sunshine withheld its full strength. And I was free to explore the land without the full interrogation of daylight.

I met two strangers that morning. One was a morning adventurer just like me, Crystal. A neat lady with thick wooly socks pulled over her pants, fine lines about her face, and charming rimless glasses. She said she used to teach an Artist-In-Nature class before Lacoste came into SCAD’s posession. We were out early for the same reason. She pointed out the Nightingale’s melodious calling, warning me not to scare it.

The other person I met involved quite a different experience. I sat drawing my newfound favorite tree, and I saw a tiny go-cart approaching with a tiny person in it. It came so slowly! But the person did not get much bigger – I figured the cart might be a mini tractor or a child’s motorized vehicle or a trick of perspective – but no. This was a low-as-a-hay-pallet-on-wheels contraption, with an old lady seated sideways on it. She was definitely handicapped, possibly missing a leg. Hard to tell for all the linens she was clothed in. As she drew near, an unsettling red greeted me from the rim of her more open eye. She spoke French to me, and I told her I didn’t speak her language very well. Somehow I managed to understand that she lived in the house behind us. She wanted to know whether I was a student, an American, and studying at Lacoste. (This felt like such an accomplishment in comprehension for me!) Then she went on her way. I know that, positively, I will not encounter another individual like her for a long time. Her poverty and her literal brokenness were extremely apparent. One does not see these people in every day life. I love that God brought me two encounters with French people on my morning adventure. It seems highly appropriate that I would randomly meet two passers-by as I myself wandered along their rural roads at such an early hour.

It feels so good to have interacted with the valley at this level, on this level. I can’t wait to go back.

Brunch was a strange meal after all that. I peeled off my jacket, too warm from the hike back up the hill. People were lazily entering the cafĂ©, fresh out of bed, tucked inside their cozy sweaters. That’s me most mornings… only I don’t even make it to breakfast. This was a real meal – a real lunch. Because I had experienced the whole morning before they had touched a toe to the floor.

What a wonderful change of pace.

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