A cycle to awaken the senses

Having arrived late on Monday night after a particularly stressful trip down I woke early yesterday & simply sat on the terrace like a lizard, being warmed by the sun, at the start of what was destined to be another stunning day. 

Yes there were things that needed to be done in the house, but I quickly decided those could wait until later as I felt the need to get out on the bike again, after nearly 9 weeks back in the UK

Miss Daisy on a jaunt to Oppède Le Vieux earlier this year


I’ve mentioned before how much I love cycling around the area – it doesn’t matter if it’s out of season or high summer – cycling in Provence is just wonderful as you see and experience so much more than you do if you simply drive (even in back roads) from A to B.

So the morning chores were abandoned, Miss Daisy was given a quick once-over and I fitted her basket ready to head off to the lovely and lively Tuesday market in Saint Saturnin.

The delightful Saint Saturnin Market


I can’t help but feel truly alive here and today seemed to be an assault on all 5 senses, waking me up and yet grounding me at the same time!

Sight

The colours at the moment are incredibly vivid & I couldn’t help but enjoy just taking in the colours that have taken over the landscape since I was here last. The cerulean blue of the cloudless sky…..

Looking towards the Luberon near Villars


The true gold of a field of wheat waiting to be harvested……

Ready for the harvest


A handful of red poppies in an almost bare field, in stark contrast to the stripes of purple in the lavender field beyond…..

Just a few poppies left now


Or even just the different colours on a row of houses in Saint Saturnin, all glowing in the morning sun…..

Pink- toned buildings & colourful shutters


Sound

Silence here is, in fact, very noisy! From the constant birdsong and the screaming of Swifts darting around the rooftops to the constant (and at times almost deafening) rasp of the Cicadas. 

There may be no man-made noise at all, but the continuous kss-kss made by these wonderful insects is enough to drive some people indoors!

Last year they started their chanting a few days later than they have this year, although with the incredible temperatures at the moment I’m really not too surprised that they have emerged so soon.

Smell 

In an air-conditioned car you miss out on the wonderful smells of Provence – OK I admit that some can be a bit ripe, but they tend to be few and far between now – although my eldest was telling me that he had passed a couple taking photos of the large settling tanks at ‘poo-land’ (the sewage works) exclaiming that they had never seen wine made like that before! If wine smells like that then that’s a real worry! 

Yesterday though, the air was filled with scent – from the intense smell of wild Fig trees at the side of the road, to the occasional unexpected blast of a Curry Plant. It just smelt warm, a blend of hot tarmac and pine, which completely disappeared whenever I cycled past a Lavender field, when the air filled simply with the scent of that.

Lavender near Villars – it smells as good as it looks!


Just devine!

Taste

One of the delights of cycling is not feeling guilty about sitting at a caré having a freshly baked croissant or pain au chocolat for mid-ride breakfast with a grand crème and that was my intention.

However the idea quickly changed when I saw the fruits on the market stalls in the village and so I filled Miss Daisy’s basket with locally grown apricots, cherries and flat peaches. How could I eat pastries, when fully ripe fruit was on offer.

My mid-morning breakfast quickly became coffee & apricots at the Bar des Amis, whilst watching the market around me. I still can’t my understand how fruit can be so different here & the juicy, sun warmed apricots were worth walking away from the pain au chocolat! 

A perfect mid-morning fruit & coffee stop


Touch

One thing stood out on the ride and that was how it felt being back in the saddle after 9 weeks away. A certain part of my anatomy certainly knew it was doing something it hadn’t been done for a while, but the sensations soon settled as my legs started turning & I was distracted by everything else there was to see, smell, hear and taste.

Just listening to the burble of voices at the market is lovely


I suppose in many ways this first cycle and the assault on my senses is a lesson in ‘mindfulness’ – at home there are always so many other things to distract me and I know I rarely just sit back and appreciate the moment. 

But cycling here gives me no choice. What else can you do but relax, stick your brain into neutral and just enjoy the experience…….

Taking a moment to just enjoy the colours, sound and scent of Provence


The only thing you have to remember is to keep turning the pedals! 

Lou Messugo
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