A Moment of Respite in the Slow Lane

I confess. There have been times in the last week that I’ve craved life in the slow lane.

IMG_5712This morning, after breakfast with my host family, after two hours planning a seminar, after lunch with my students, after a seminar in the park and after a visit toIMG_5714 Aix’s cathedral, I arrived there.  By myself.  In a lovely square off Rue Gaston de Saporta next to Aix-en-Provence’s Tapestry Museum. For about 20 minutes, I just sat, sipping a fresh-squeezed lemonade and trying to make sense of the French conversation at the next table. Then, as the late afternoon light danced through the windblown shadows, I took in the old buildings around me, the heavy dark IMG_5719wooden doors, the flower pots in windows.  And I began to take pictures, something I haven’t had much time to concentrate on during this visit.

I’m strictly an amateur, mind you.  But I’ve begun to find that when I look at the world around me in search of a good photo, I notice things I’ve missed and, in general, slow down as I scan what’s before me.  It’s a discovery I hope to play with in retirement soon, something new to work on along with the damnably difficult task of gaining some traction in the French language.

IMG_5735After awhile, I paid and walked down the cobblestone streets of Saporta until I reached the Place de l’Hotel deIMG_5733 Ville with its clocktower and ornate statue atop the post office.  And then, as I came around the next corner to Place Richelme I heard the harmonies of a group of young men, on guitars and violin, making music in the afternoon for themselves as much as for an IMG_5737appreciative crowd.  (This was not a please-put-money-in-my-hat crowd).  A little girl listened, eating a big iceIMG_5741 cream cone.  There was laughter. No one was in a hurry.

Once again, I had returned to the Aix I knew and loved, one in which it’s possible to suspend time in the midst of the bustling tourist season and simply enjoy the moment.

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