After many years of loving Ann Carson's work, something always draws me back to the start, the day many many years ago, in my first year of college, when I read the essay KINDS of WATER in Best American Essays (now in her collection Plainwater). It was one of those moments when your body practically catches fire reading, where you want to leap up out into the world and share the text with everyone around you. I was sitting in a musty xchair in the Haymarket Café in Northampton. It was dim and filled with other college women from Smith and Holyoke feeding on the fumes of wannabe Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson-ness. I never thought my reading would lead me here, to the gritty, sweaty, reality of it: walking.
But here I am. On the camino of St Jacques, major walking for the next few months. I started off on the French holiday, Bastille Day, when I trained to see the 14th fireworks in Chartres, and meet with "Jacques" from th Chartres association des amis de St Jacques who dictated the start of my trek, supplied me with step by step instructions and maps as well as called ahead to arrange house stays for me. I have been touched from that moment forth by the total generosity of people, and hope that in my life and actions I can return all the favors being given to me!
As for the trek, This is day 2 and everything hurts, walked 32km yesterday and only about 12 today. About 20 to Chateaudon tomorrow. Last night, when I tought I just could not move another inch, I was welcomed in by a family with all 4 gfenerations present! We ate cold cuts, salad and peaches with whipped cream and I was asked about Obama, America, the trek, etc. I then slept in a cabana accueil for the Moulin Pelard at the bois de feugères.
Tonight, after a touristy wander in circles of the countryside, I am in Bonneval (not much farther down the road had I taken the straight route and not stopped off in Montboissier to scribble on a bench in the shade as an equestrian center took their horses out for a trot and where Chautaubriand once lived, and taken GR routes back and forth through the greeny countryside, stopping more often to make sure I was on the right route. It is the moisson, and so the wheat farmers are cutting and stacking the wheat. But I have also passed corn, sunflower and a yet-to-be identified crop of fields.
Starting, but not without setbacks: I got a bit lost today, which meant some unnecessary backtracking. And yesterday I ran out of water in the middle of a LONG stretch where there was no access to shade and the sun was pouring down (between la bourdinière and luplanté, then luplanté and beauville. At beauville I drank the water from a well by a church and was told it was likely choc-a-bloc with pesticides. But it was cold, and refreshing... so!
Anyway, I am off to Chateaudon the 17th, then Autheil the 18th then a HUGE walking day to Vendome the 19th where I might stay 2 nights to visit the city and get my next sleeping arrangements made. I will check back here and leave info for those of you following my trek!