……………….our travels in France this Spring…….. This time our retreat is near The Lot and Dordogne. A region filled with small villages, Idyllic with lilting stone structures framed in wild oak, and stones collected from fields over centuries. The distinctive architecture with deeply slopped roofs, flap down on each end ridge and tiled in slate or clay. The thick yellow stone walls belie an earthy tactile feeling. Shutters are soft greens to aqua, rich red, some weathered white. Each hamlet is a Fairytale of church spire to Marie and Ecole, with row homes tight to narrow streets.
A plot of grass, or pot of flowers add to the hedgerow that is all mixed up with thorny bushes, mimosa, wisteria and herbs, whatever grows. Each Fall it’s trimmed to exactness, just as the plantain trees that line the road approach that often surround the town centre. This little area we have chosen to perch ourselves for two months is indeed lost in time. Conveniences are only a few kilometers to Gramat where we shop. Rignac is time warped to years ago. Our cottage snug to sheep with new lambs frolicking, bleating for attention. A cat “Queen of The Orange” takes up residence with us. Our lane extends to a small bridge covering a fast flowing stream and meanders to the next village. The cottage with its two rooms has a deep 6 foot wide fire place. We burn hunks of oak every night to keep off the chill. Huge armoires hold crockery a mish mash of platters and delightful thick porcelain bowls. A tiny gas burner stove, wide flat sink with side drying rack. The table serves us for dining, maps, art supplies and kitchen prep. Already we have made two thick soups of onions, turnips, leeks, carrots and cabbage. Upstairs the large room with exposed heavy blacken beams has a small gable window that welcomes the morning sun. At night mice and pigeons find snug resting spots just above my head. Families probably generational permanently lodged in their safe home between tiled roof and wood lined ceiling. “Queen of the Orange” has taken to resting on my bed or lazily stretching on the high bureau in the sunny spot under the window. Within two weeks we feel at home. Our luggage stowed, clothes strewn, papers, computers, wires and books litter chair and table tops. Our habits are relaxing. My painting has begun with interpretations of this little hamlet. Our laundry drying under a plum tree in full bloom, wisteria buds unfurl perceptibly, daffodils, tulips and grass carpeted with English daisies all emit a fragrance that we breathe deeply. Spring has arrived in the south of France.