When A Quiet Path Beckons We Take It
We live deep in the countryside of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of France, an area best known to British visitors as the Dordogne but to the French as Périgord. It’s a picturesque area throughout the year and is divided into four regions: Périgord blanc (white), Périgord noir (black), Périgord vert (green) and Périgord pourpre (purple). The colours relate to the terrain and flora: limestone plateaux, dark pine and oak forests, world famous vineyards, rich green valleys and meadows. Our home is located on the border of Périgord vert and Périgord blanc and at this time of year Périgord vert is especially living up to its name
For 18 years we’ve been exploring the numerous footpaths and trails in our immediate vicinity as well as farther afield and haven’t yet tired of it, nor do we expect to anytime soon. Every season has charms, every day we see something new. No walk stays the same should we quickly revisit, as nature’s constantly bringing change at macro and micro levels, subtly in some cases, others dramatically. A hailstorm wreaks havoc in seconds, a late frost decimates cherry blossom while a light breeze sends clouds of fluffy dandelion seed heads up above our own.
The natural beauty all around invites us to enjoy our daily walks and we do. Our first dog, beloved, dear departed Jasmine, thrived during holidays spent here. We bought our house as soon as the law changed and introduced the Pet Travel Scheme and we could bring her with us. She was one of the first dogs to take advantage of that welcome freedom to travel without the need for quarantine. In her younger years we shared many long meanders, not always knowing quite where a trail would lead. Now her sisters enjoy the same but not just for holidays.
As soon as we were in a position to be here for chunks of time, we knew it would be ideal for the dogs if we relocated for the majority of the year. There could be little better for them than to have days arranged around walks far from the frenzied demands of our time in England. This has proven especially valuable for Cerise, who daily battles persistent demons of her puppy farm past. Crowded places, traffic, close proximity with strangers all remain unresolved stressors for her – probably not eased by ensconcing her in the quietude of life rather than forcing her to confront her fears.
But as it’s been an option it has seemed the right thing to do. We couldn’t do it full-time for Susie-Belle and Twinkle who had to fit into living in the madding world of being in the most congested part of the UK. The holidays were godsends in our early months with Susie-Belle,
..we opted for a walk closer to home and spent a couple of hours of total delight in warm spring sunshine whilst listening to the sounds of woodpeckers, cuckoos, distant roosters and even a braying donkey.
I wrote in Saving Susie-Belle, recounting how special our first spring holiday with her was.
That morning was perfect – we heard nothing but the simple sounds of nature the entire walk. Susie-Belle was still edgy at home with sudden or loud traffic noise and to see her moving along paths so carefree and happy gave us deep satisfaction. Whilst we knew we couldn’t avoid putting her in places where traffic exists as we have to live where do in England, we were thankful that we had our regular rural French escapes to provide a welcome antidote. ~ Chapter 17, Saving Susie-Belle
I feel true gratitude that the dogs now get to enjoy this peace every day and I sincerely wish that Susie-Belle was here still, of course I do, but I know she laid the path for Cerise’s life in France. While it might be avoidance for Cerise to have little more demanding to face each day than the odd passing tractor, while we are able to offer her minimal stress through rural tranquility, we will. There’s ample ways we can help her overcome her past and forcing her into a noisy world, one we strive to avoid ourselves, isn’t one of them.
You must have a place to which you can go in your heart, your mind, or your house, almost every day, where you do not owe anyone and where no one owes you – a place that simply allows for the blossoming of something new and promising.
~ Joseph Campbell