Spellbound

Location

Fanjoux
France

For the second time since we’ve been living in France, I found myself in a trancelike state in a small village dating back to the 13th century.   The first time it happened was in Cordes sur Ciel on a warm, breezy afternoon.   This time it was a dark, cloudy day with a cool breeze threatening to bring rain.  Again, the view included pastures, and fields sprawling in every direction, and other hilltop villages in the distance.  Despite it being near the end of February, many of the fields were a lush, vibrant green.  The vineyards sleep during winter, and some fields have been plowed to reveal the rich brown soil that has produced food and drink for hundreds of years.  

As I stood there, taking in the scene, it seemed to envelop me body and soul.  I realized the timelessness of this view.  Where I saw narrow paved roads, a peasant in 1211 may have seen a dirt path suitable for an ox-drawn cart.  The hills rolled the same way.  The open areas were likely cultivated for food and grapes.  The winds and clouds may have felt the same and traveled from the same direction. 

Unlike my peasant counterpart, I didn’t have anything that needed to be done; no firewood or water to carry, no church to build, no sword-wielding enemies to defend against.  I was completely content.  I realized it would take effort to move from that spot, that view, that timeless moment.  I actually thought about neither needing nor wanting anything.   I could only imagine staying there.  Forever.

After awhile, Signe and I walked a block to a stone building where we heard a chorus of women’s voices singing what sounded like hymns.   We had found a convent still in use. In the wall, between the door and an ancient leaded-glass window was an engraved stone.  The message chiseled there translated as follows: 

                                       Saint Dominique lived here 1206 to 1216.

Again, it was difficult to move.  The sweet, simple harmony of a group of faceless voices held us both to the spot.  The purity of the moment was unblemished.  During this entire time we saw no cars or people. The village is obviously inhabited, and later we saw many signs of the current residents.  It was somehow disconcerting to see modern thermo pane windows, vehicles, and a few interiors of homes in current use.  But we knew that long after we are all gone, this village, the hills, pastures, and vineyards will be here to bewitch other travelers.

 

 


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