August tends to be a quiet month for us. While the rest of society takes to the roads and skies to enjoy the warm weather and long days, we wind down, staying home to avoid the crowds, regrouping before our work picks up again in the run-up to our autumn travels. We putter in the garden and do odd jobs around the house. We take long walks, afternoon naps, and short jaunts to the shops – a rather idyllic existence. By the time August comes to a close, we’re ready for change, and ready to dive into new projects.
We have been cooking, using the produce from our tiny garden (primarily chilli peppers, tomatillos, and blackberries) in as many dishes as we can.
My daily walks let me track the changing season, and help me prepare for the pilgrimage I’ve been planning for months. They say there are (at least) three stages to a journey – departure, arrival, and return. For me, the departure begins long before the journey starts; perhaps preparation for departure should be counted as an extra step, with a possible fifth step being the post-pilgrimage integration that always takes much longer than I think it will.
I am making this pilgrimage, walking from Paris to Chartres with a dear friend, as a way of marking my approaching 60th birthday. I have a few months to go, but I am already acutely aware of this approaching milestone. My mother died at age 56, so I have already outlived her, and I am deeply grateful for my vitality and health – and, indeed, for my very life.
My days, at the moment, are filled with walks and maps and thoughts of intention and life-purpose. I intend to write about my journey, so I hope you will join me here in blogland as I finish my planning and preparation before I shoulder my pack and head to France later this week..
Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys.
— Richard Niebuhr