Early on a July morning, I rubbed my eyes and roused myself from sleep. Normally my godmother and her family let me sleep, but not today, today we were going to the mountains. In an effort to fully embrace the culture of the southern French countryside, I quickly showered and refrained from my usual make up. As we began our ascent, I heard repeated apologies for the extremely overcast weather. The higher we climbed the more immersed we became inside the clouds. The apologies became more frequent as I failed to hear most of them; I was too mesmerized by the constantly changing scenery. The clouds were continually moving with the wind, hiding sights you had just glimpsed while revealing landscapes that just moments ago had been hidden in the mist. I turned on the spot in an effort to soak up the views from every direction, but it wasn’t my eyes who determined what I would see, my views were at the whim of the clouds.
As we continued our tour, we ran into a small building that produced cheese. We stopped to discuss the production of cheese with an authentic Pyrenees man who explained how he himself produced the cheese from his own goats that were located just behind his modest cheese shop. Fifteen minutes later, with a kilo of the freshest cheese money can buy in hand, we continued on our journey. Towards the afternoon we arrived at Col d’Aubisque, a famous destination for cyclists. This particular point in the mountains featured a restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Due to the cold weather, most people chose to dine inside. We, however, decided to face the chill in order to spend more time in the swirling clouds. My hair was soon covered in water droplets as the water vapor from inside the clouds began to condense. During our descent, I took time to reflect on the day. It had been a simple day spent with family in nature. We had taken time to enjoy all the simple pleasures that life has to offer: the admiration of nature, the pleasure of the purest food purchased straight from the source, and most importantly, enjoying a day in the company of the ones we love. It was a day that to me perfectly represents the lifestyle of the countryside in the south of France. A culture distanced from the materialistic values of much of the rest of the world, but instead much more accustomed to the pure and natural forms of all that life has to offer. A culture that I find to be relatively without worries but instead rich in their awe of the beauty of the nature that surrounds us and always to be found enveloped by those that they love.
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