I walked along the Lot (a river that flows through France) under the briliant morning sun. These had been the hottest days of summer; even hotter than any summer Europe had known during the last century, or so they said. Ducks and fishes swam happily in shallow water. Some ducks were seen flying away abrubtly for fear of a huge fish’s approach that was stirring the waves. An informative board for tourists said:
‘Zones refuges le long du Lot – Fauchage tardif
Pas de pesticide – Biodiversité’,
with as illustration a picture of the river which looked exactly the same as what I could see on my left.
Then I turned around and saw a lot of flowers: big flowers, small flowers, red flowers, pink flowers, yellow flowers,… Above the flowers, on a balcony, stood an old woman in her pyjamas. She was looking at me when I noticed her. The balcony was also filled with flowers. The balcony was filled with her presence.
I smiled at her and she smiled at me. I looked into her eyes and she looked into mine. It was just when I was about to leave that a sudden thought struck me: I wanted a picture of her with her balcony and its flowers.
Asking for permission I did, with a voice revealing uncertainty.
The woman looked confused and after a while uttered something in French, eyes still fixed on me. ‘Pardon?’, I asked, not having been able to catch what she said. She would repeat the sentence and I would miss it again. I would tell her that the river was too loud for me to hear her words but my words to her then only appeared empty. We stood there in silence as she looked into my eyes and I looked into hers.
The river ran and the wind blew and I wished I had known more French.
‘Pourquoi voudriez-vous une photo de moi? Je suis vieille.’, she said at last, loudlier and slowlier, when the wind had calmed down.
‘Parce que c’est beau ici… Et vous êtes belle, vous aussi!’
That was another time when I wished that I had spoken more French.
Our eyes met again. ‘Faites une photo des fleurs si vous voulez. Je suis déjà très vieille!’, the last word echoed as she turned around and went quickly back into the house. ‘Merci!’ was all I had been able to say before she disappeared in the darkness of her unlit room.
But that was a fact that the flowers already knew.
Farther along the river I went.
Miaow Miaow Miaow,
Wild cats gathered on a wall, eating food that locals kindly gave.
And so I took a picture of the cats.
Then I turned left into a small path at the end of the wall and began to wander the streets of St-Geniez d’Olt.
that open to the summer sky.