Limoux, je t'aime.

Tomorrow we leave.  I feel a lump rise in my throat and tears in my eyes, just at writing that first sentence. 

How did everything line up so well, after months of somewhat blind research, a sense that there was nothing much happening here, that this part of France is virtually unknown except to certain cyclists and carnival lovers, that there was this interesting apartment available with a landlord who clicked in our first emails, that I dove in and never looked back, that right from the start it felt so right, and that in eight of the shortest months of my life I have fallen completely in love with this place?  It’s the river Aude that flows across my backyard and has a life of its own – I’d never known a river before, never knew how hypnotic and wonderful it could be.  And the view across the river to the other side of town, with its tile roofs over medieval dwellings, and church steeple.  There’s the 14th century bridge I cross on foot as many times as I want in a day to go to market or to the café, the square, or just to have a view upriver or down, or just because I'm on one of my long walks and I have the time.  The slow pace here, even while everyone speed walks; no one is in too much of a hurry, it seems.  They take time to stop in the middle of the day and again at the end to chat with friends, eat with their kids and elders, tend to their plants, and to savor the good in life.  Being by now a part of the community, I am someone people see repeatedly and recognize and say hello to.  The community pride reflected in the decorations that change almost weekly for the Carnival and the festivals.  And the people in this town seem consistently accepting of the residents of the local psychiatric hospital who are often seen out for the day; though the patients wander and talk oddly to themselves, I’ve never seen anyone walk out of the way to avoid any of them.  And the Place de La Republique, with it’s beautiful fountain that has just been turned on again for the summer; I’ve watched it through the seasons, watched people throw coins in it, and children climbing on it, and people meeting next to it, and I will never forget the first night we arrived, when some Limouxians were dancing the Tango beneath it.  Be still my heart. 

The countryside surrounding Limoux is nothing short of spectacular.  They call this area “little France” because it has the geographic features of every part of the country, down in this one little corner of France,  sharp steep peaks, rolling hills graced with agricultural products growing even in the winter, fields of grass where herds of cows and sheep hang out to entertain and delight me as I drive by, even one with both cows and real free range chickens, a little Chateau at the top of the hill a short walk from my house, the vineyards, the sea, the palm trees, the gorges.  And, of course, the myriad hill towns and ancient castles on high. 

The area, like Denver, boasts 300 days of sunshine per year.  After weeks of sun, today it is gray and rainy.  I wished for rain today, weeks ago, for just this one day, thinking it would make it easier to leave.  But Limoux can’t fool me.  Limoux, I love you.

 

 


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