(Irises by Van Gogh, painted 1889 during his stay in the St.Pauls Assylum near St. Remy)
Two days ago I arrived in St. Remy, immediately captured again by the beauty of the Provence, the old buildings, the small streets that barely let the sun in, offering a cool respite from the hot, burning southern sun. There are these tiny little shops offering delicacies of all sorts, beautiful fashion, ceramics, jewellery, and the ever present Provencal pottery and fabrics. And let’s not forget the many little cafees, restaurants, and bars inviting us to come, sit down, slow down, and sample from the wonderful foods and wines of the region.
I love it here. It’s been my third visit, and I never seem to get tired of walking the same streets, enjoying my time with friends and their friends, chatting about sweet nothings or sharing moments of deep and meaningful observations.
The puzzle I woke up to today was the question “What is it about Old Places that pulls us to them – in large hordes I might add. There must be something evoked in many people by the sight of old, historic buildings, monuments and landmarks. Something that goes beyound ‘likes’. Bettina Drew quoted:
“The past reminds us of timeless human truths and allows for the perpetuation of cultural traditions that can be nourishing; it contains examples of mistakes to avoid, preserves the memory of alternatives ways of doing things, and is the basis for self-understanding…”
I am not sure yet what it is that fascinates me about this little quaint village in the heart of the Provence – and maybe it’s not really one thing but a combination of many. I am intruiged by the above quote’s reference to self-understanding and hints of alternative ways of living, away from the hustle of busy every day life. Maybe it is the invitation to slow down, contemplate, and to sample the beauty around us, inviting people to see what is really important, what will last the sands of time and still be relevant tomorrow.