15 July 2011

that the sun would feel this good

And here I find myself in Aix-en-Provence again, sitting in the square just by the Hotel de Ville.

Two men sit over there by the fountain—one of many fountains here in Aix, the town founded by the Romans because of the natural spring here. How could those Romans pass up an opportunity to take a bath on their journey to conquer Europe?

It seems every corner you turn, every street you think might lead you home, has a fountain of some size. Even at the smallest ones, tucked into the sides of buildings, you can see hints of the town as it used to be, back when women came here every day to get water for their families.

But those two men sitting by the fountain today: they're playing the violin and the accordion, and I can hear echoes of the gypsy history here in Aix, too. With the cheerful bounce to the violin—blended with the nostalgic longing of the accordion—I can imagine, for just a minute, a gypsy camp out in the hills of Provence, red scarves and gold hoops blurring together as the women dance.

But there is no dance here today, only sunshine and no clouds. Not one, even one, is in the sky as I look up through the plane trees, their canopy stretched over me. The sun is so brilliant today, it's burning the sky white: it's past blue, more than blue, today.

That's now, though.

This morning, Amie and I went on a run to Cezanne's studio, which, as it should be, is up-up-up the hill leading out of the centre-ville—out of downtown and away from that maze of fountained streets.

Cezanne needed to be on top of the town to capture more of the light, more of the clarity that painting can bring to life.

We ran up, thighs screeching a bit, and once, we had to stop. We had to walk, and I turned to walk backwards up the hill. Used different muscles, but it also gave me a different view.

When I turned around to see what I had been running from, I saw the cathedrale St-Saveur, that Roman church just up the street from where I went to school in Aix.

The tower stood, familiar and reassuring, against a sharp-edged blue sky.

As I tried to calm my breathing and my muscles, I thought ahead to sitting in this cafe. I knew I would be—not that I knew which cafe exactly, but I knew that I would be sitting in a cafe.

And I think I knew that there would be gypsy music, and I think I knew that the sun would feel this good.

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