Days are drifting by like clouds on the crisp November winds, each one tinted rose by the ebbing warmth of the setting sun. I feel as though my time here should be accompanied by an Edith Piaf soundtrack. Hours pass in a delicious blur of cooking, creativity, and country walks. I am revelling in domesticity, finding pleasure in the humblest of tasks; the perfectly made bed, the crumb-free kitchen counter, the neatly stacked firewood.
We have been living here in our borrowed French chateau for almost a month now, and already I am dreading the day we have to leave. Though still five months away, I feel it looming in the distance, a shadow that causes me to question everything that went before. Am I cut out for a life of indefinite travel? Can our design business flourish on the road? Could we do this with children in tow – or rather, would we want to? More and more I am beginning to sense that this may not be the case, and instead find myself dreaming of one day owning a little farmstead here in France, obsessively pinning images to satiate my new desire for a base from which we can travel – for months at a time, rather than years.
It has been an unexpected side-effect of having found myself, quite serendipitously, in exactly the right place, at precisely the right time. I feel a change slowly unfurling like the delicately rippled edges of the chanterelle mushrooms that line the path beyond our front door. Or perhaps more than change, what I really feel is a yearning. A growing need to belong to one place; for one small corner of the world to belong to me. I have learnt that the gift of travel is one made all the more sweet with a home to come back to.
Unexpected as this may be, I cannot say I am surprised. A quintessential dreamer to my very core, it makes sense that now, having brought my biggest dreams to fruition, a new one would begin to emerge. I feel as though the years of hard work and saving that enabled this nomadic life we currently live were akin to summiting a mountain. Now, having reached the top, I realise that this is merely the beginning of a whole range of mountains still to be explored, and this very knowledge itself is enough to delight my traveller’s soul. I know that I am capable of creating the life I most want to live. But perhaps it would now be wise to relinquish the reigns, allowing my horses to run wild for a while, and let the future be guided by fate rather than my own hand.
No thoughts of distant climes stir greater excitement right now than the rolling fields beyond my window. Every day something happens here to delight me. Every walk reveals some previously undiscovered treasure – the chanterelle mushrooms; wild walnuts; the orange of fallen leaves against the stark turquoise of the swimming pool floor; the last of the season’s figs still bravely clinging to the branches, though the leaves have long given up the battle. After a year of movement the adventure is now in standing still, and observing all that is around me. A great challenge emerges – the seeking out of what is hidden; the beauty tucked behind dense woodland, or down winding country lanes. Discovering the details, foraging and unearthing.
I spend whole days exploring through creativity instead of my passport – writing, designing, gathering kindling, arranging flowers, baking pies and learning to build the perfect log fire. It may sound trivial, but for me, it has shown me the full expanse of the world, and the many forms our lives will take throughout our time upon it. That road I first set out on over a year ago, that led me through India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, also led me here, and the journey still continues – for it is not in how much movement we can cram into a day or week or year, but how much stillness to observe, that the real value lies.
As I sit and write this, alone in the spare bedroom we have morphed into our office, a glass of wine beside me and the sound of Lee’s laughter echoing through the high-beamed ceilings, I feel more at one with the world than ever. The room smells of pine, perfumed by the pile of freshly fallen cones drying on the window ledge in front of my desk. Outside, the bare limbs of centuries-old trees bend and sway with the breeze, the naked branches holding aloft the last of their gold, exposing a winter wardrobe of moss and lichen that carpet their bark. A few stubborn roses still climb the stone wall, their fading beauty painted a perfect shade of pink.
In the distance rings the heavy boom of an unknown force, that we have learned is some form of explosive used to disperse clouds and preserve the late autumn grapes as they brown in the heatless sun. I have no idea if this is true or not – Google had little to say on the matter – but I like to think is may be possible. That if you listen quietly to the distant booms that resound within, you will hear your deepest truth, clearing away what once seemed permanent, and allowing something nourishing to blossom in its place.