Poppies in Provence

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Poppy fields near Ochre Quarry

The older I get the more I realize that is it unusual for a day to unfold the way you expect.  It doesn’t matter how many lists you make, appointments you schedule, tasks you delegate.  The expecatations you had when you awoke will likely be confounded.  This can be a great temptation for anger, self-pity, or  frustration. But sometimes the unexpected can bring amazing experiences – and I am not just talking about opportunities for practicing patience or other forms of character development.  Sometimes the unexpected leads to adventure.

On the occasion of our twentieth wedding anniversary, my husband and I traveled to Provence, France. Because we had our ten-week-old daughter, our ninth child, in tow, we chose to spend our week exploring the countryside hiking, with her in a backpack.   On a fine, sunny day we set out to explore the ochre quarries near Roussillon.  Our guide book, which had proved trustworthy thus far, seemed suddenly vague.  At a junction we were to take the right path, which descends steeply, follows a ridge, passes through woods, till we can look down into the quarries.  We could not find this junction.  At last we found a path, which descended gently.  We followed a ridge and there we saw one of the most spectacular sights my eyes have seen-  acres and acres of wheat fields covered in poppies!  “Breathtaking” is an understatement!  We walked on, expecting at any time to enter woods that would lead us back to our quarry.  At long last, we knew we were lost.  Well, not really lost, but diverted.  Time for a picnic!  We pulled from our packs hunks of fig bread and olive bread, and a sampler pack of locally made tapenades.  There is no food quite so delicious as food eaten when you are truly hungry!  We traced our path back uphill.   We searched hard for our path.  We had to decide where it ought to be.  It was little more than a goat path, well obscured by brush.  But it did descend sharply, along a ridge, through the woods, to the quarries.


view of the ochre quarry


Red ochre

Checking the guidebook

Ultimately we walked many miles out of our way.  Many.   Like maybe five.  However I would not trade that experience for a perfect hike.  I find myself often reflecting on that hike.  I comfort myself on days when the unexpected happens, which is almost every day, with the memory that sometimes the unexpected can lead to something wonderful, like a field of poppies.


A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  NKJV Proverbs 16:9

Comments (4) May 01 2011