October 8, 2015 – Jim took a right-hand turn from the main road before he had directions from the appointed navigator, namely me. Weary from jet-lag on our first day in France, I asked: “Why did you turn here? The sign points to a campground, and I never gave the word to fly off the road yet!” I slumped in my seat while Jim drove on the wrong road, knowing he had to turn around safely somewhere. Near the end of the road, I saw a beautiful hilltop town with stone houses, a bell tower and a chateau set among vineyards with the Luberon Mountains to our right. Continuing on his merry unguided way, Jim plunged ahead, driving up a narrow lane lined with cypress trees, entering the village of Maubec-le-Vieux, France and finally parking. I didn’t expect our turn-around from Jim’s wrong road foray to be in such a scenic location, completely different from the U-turns in parking lots, industrial zones, grave yards and cattle auction lots. The view of fruit and olive trees in the valley with a patchwork of gold, red and green in the sunlight was not like the scene of some of Jim’s notorious turn-arounds in Alabama. Backing our Jeep over a culvert to a patch of hardened clay overgrown with weeds, he was totally unaware of a sign posted: “No Trespassing! Trespassers will be shot! Survivors will be shot again!” No, I won’t go there again and I didn’t want to be there in the first place! In France, he somehow avoids the “Privé” (private) signs, but he leaves my side of the car inches from a drop-off to the canyon floor like it is ordinaire and flippantly says: “There’s plenty of room. We haven’t run off the road yet, have we?”
Before I had said a word of direction, Jim backed the car from the parking space and headed in the opposite direction, unknown territory and toward a pathway that seemed to narrow into a goat trail. “Turn around now! While you still have space to get out of this place, stop and turn around!” He maneuvered the car in the tight spot until it was headed in the right direction, without taking a backwards tour down the side of the hill. We lived another day without incident to return for a real visit to the pretty village when I felt better with an improved mood.I love finding similarities in France, and other places where we travel. Honeysuckle vines grew on the wall of a stunning, strawberry pink house and reminded me of the honeysuckle flowers on my backyard fence at home. The sweet fragrance brought memories of my childhood when I tasted the nectar inside the blossoms. I didn’t think the folks inside the pink house would appreciate me sampling sips of nectar from their flowers. If I could have spoken to them, we may have shared our common appreciation of the hardy, but delicate, honeysuckle vine. Frequently, that is all it takes, a few words spoken and a smile to open doors and build good fellowship.
I enjoy the differences such as the woven curtain in the colorful doorway that we found in the village. No, we don’t have anything to compare in our small town, not alike any doorway in the vicinity! Jim and I travel to see the differences in other places, the architecture, people, food and landscape that are unique to the area. Among the variations, the discovery of a common thread is comforting with the realization that even hundreds, or thousands of miles away, we are really not that different after all. We are alike.
On the other hand, is there possibly another husband like mine out there? If I give him any leeway in following directions on our travels, he is like a runaway train, or one of those little toy cars in a cartoon, zipping around out of control. Do you have a husband like this on the road of your travels? Are there others just like him on this planet?
Oh, heavens, do I ever feel for you! In all fairness, I will say that I am ever so thankful because I could never, ever, ever drive on those narrow roads like he does! Well, that’s enough of painting him up like a Super-Husband.