I started a journey this week, inspired by my friend Lisa’s search for inspiration. She’s pretty good at inspiring others. She looks at the world with young eyes, with a spring in her visual step, one might say. Her perspective never fails to make me stop and think.
Alongside her idea, here’s mine, though I’m choosing not to do it through a fake journal , as she is – not this year anyway. Lisa will sketch, on our journey along the trail. I’ll write, using the images we find along the way as writing prompts for pieces of descriptive narrative (or story, or poetry, or…fake journal entries?!?). It will be like Lewis and Clark, I’m sure – each one of us with our own discoveries to make, but traveling the same road.
My inclination at first was to do lots of research about the area, find out what the native plants likely are, immerse myself in the cultural history. Instead, though, I’ve decided that some days I’ll let a photo from our trail be my writing prompt for the day. Other days, I’ll use Google Earth’s Walking Man as Lisa plans to, to look around and choose something to write about. So let’s go – the journey with a friend begins.
I wasn’t two miles into our walk when I was inspired by the ancient stonework of this church you see in the picture above, and the buildings in its neighborhood.
I wandered the streets around the church, a mix of stones from many eras, cobbles and slabs, cut stones and steps. The street, called Rue des Tables, is alternately rough beneath my feet, and somewhat even, all rounded cobbles in some places and slabs set in some sort of mortar in others. Interesting steps lead me along one side of a building that sits below St. Michel d’Aiguilhe.
The steps themselves are a neatly constructed combination of cobbles framed in slabs of stone, built all along the roadside as it rises toward the church at its end. Each stone in this place seems to come from a different spot – a different era, even? Some are black or dusty greyed yellow, and some are red, all pasted together in the building walls into a beautiful quilt of rough rich colors.
And in this building I stand beside, below the church, there is a pair of doors set into the stone. One is faded wood, narrow panels flaking and worn. There was once a beautiful frame around it; the remains give a feeling of once-upon-a-time strength and of care in the making. Now, though, there are chunks of wood missing around the edge. Chinked into the wall beside this worn wooden door is another, newer one, set into the wooden frame and surrounded by pale mortar and stone, a dark shining door with pale rough mortar closing it into the broken ancient frame. Ornate metal work gleams black through the dust on this door.
It is magnificent, graceful curves and swirling patterns joining across the center of the door. And joining these two doors, making them related, is a faded gold and white-striped awning, hanging over the doors, providing a scrap of shade if one were standing in the open doorway, looking out. Who has stood in this doorway? The longer I look, the more fascinated I become by the thought, and I imagine any number of characters who could have stood here, who could look to the left and see the magnificent church, with its Byzantine stonework, who could walk to the right down the cobbled steps to the market, with its noise and color.
Go ahead. You could travel to 31 Rue des Tables in Le Puy, near the church of St Michel d’Aiguilhe. Look for the doors. Who do you see standing there?