We have moved, in to the house next door -with a shared wall to our old house no less – and we LOVE it. Pardon the bold, italicized capitals (I held back from underlining it though). There’s the new backyard. Modern, warm, full of light. No more dirty fires to start, shivering, first thing in the morning, after dashing outside for kindling, to huddle around feeding them, sweeping up, all of us in two rooms near the two fires, the bedrooms and bathrooms always chilly. No, we are luxuriating with multiple heat pumps, walk out French doors to a long garden facing the foothills and Canigou, and an enormous 10 person sofa. There’s a laundry chute adored by all, so much so I have to triage the results below. The showers don’t leak either, quite a treat.
Kate’s happy because she got the bright pink room (the master!) and Tris is happy because he got 6 topo maps up on the wall showing our area in 1:25,000 detail. So cool!
We’ve settled in and back to school and routine this week after the excitement of Christmas holidays with mom here and a trip to Mallorca. A big storm on Sunday the 7th, our first day waking up in the house, added excitement. Marble sized hail, flooding fields, lighting and thunder directly overhead… and then no wifi, which was out for the whole week.
I headed off for a run, across the backfield and through the peach fields, up the forestry road in to the foothills. I’d long looked at the foothill closest to us, covered with green, scrubby, prickly, Mediterranean brush, wondering if there was a path up it.
I ran along the bottom of the hill. Aha, yes! There was a footpath! Narrower than the typical paths around here, but still. Pleased, I jogged along it, the thorny scrub catching at my jogging pants. Up it went, crossing multiple stone walls 2 or 3 feet high, remnants of old terracing, often only 10 or 20 feet from the last one. And then… my trail petered out in to nothing, more and more overgrown, and worse still, branching here and there, forcing me to carve my way through ever more locking and thorny undergrowth. Picture a prince hacking his way through a thicket to a tower and you have the idea. I had to give up and admit that the little trails I was on were made and used by boar, which the French call sanglier; they come snuffling down through the hills in the night and dig up snacks like acorns and roots and insects. I wasn’t far from the top, which I felt would have a trail, but I admitted defeat and turned around, and was at least treated to a good view of the plain, dotted with fields and farms and towns right to the Mediterranean.
I squeezed through the brush to head back down the hill, switching from boar path to boar path, picking up lots of scratches, noting the blue shotgun shells scattered throughout, evidence of the dedication of boar hunters. It was quite la-boar-ious in fact. I had really boar-rowed trouble, you could say. Eventually I emerged from the brush at the bottom of the foothill, discouraged. I started jogging back, very ready for a shower, and suddenly noticed a proper path, heading up the next hill over! Heck, I should have gone this way in the first place! Fine, I would still try it.
I steamed up it, heart rate at approx. 1000 bpm, and came out on a plateau, my eyes boaring into my nemesis, the hill across from me: but no paths were visible leading up to the peak anywhere so at least my mission had succeeded in confirming there was no way up on this side. Not a complete failure, even though collecting so many scratches from all the thorns did get rather boaring!
Sorry about the boar puns. Looked in to boar after I got home and found a lot of articles about boar attacks. Hmm.
PS: found out that under the hill I did get up -just below the top- is an extensive cave system extending 1000 m, inhabited by humans since Prehistoric times, 25,000 years before present! Less than 2 km from the house. We hadn’t found it because there was no sign unless you approached from the far side! Astounding.
I’ll leave you with a favorite poem of mine about paths joining:
The Road Goes Ever On and On: by Bilbo Baggins (ahem, Tolkien)
The road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began
Now far away the road has gone
And I must follow, if I can
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.