Rotten crab in a salad caused food poisoning after Bram Stoker ingested the awful dish. Between bouts of sickness he dreamed about the lord of the vampires. Thus, the story of Dracula, a best-seller, was inspired by a vile sickness.
Writers find their inspiration in odd places and strange events. Finding inspiration for a best-seller from a plate of food prepared for a hospital emergency room visit isn’t my idea of the way to success! I’ve had a few moments of odd inspiration under the influence of sickness and over-the-counter cold and cough medication. I’m daring to tell you about this one and hope you don’t write me off as unstable. Dracula is not involved.
During my episode with fever, coughing and sneezing when Jim and I were in the Provence last October, I wallowed on the sofa by the fireplace when we were not out and about. A large, comfortable chair with a high back was directly in my field of vision to the left of the French doors with a view of the gorgeous courtyard. Somehow, the chair reminded me of one from my early childhood and it triggered a memory from long ago. They say the brain is like a filing cabinet, and when one thought is filed away it can touch others and bring them to the surface. Or, maybe I just made that up. Anyway, the memory buried deep and forgotten was so funny to me that I had to tell Jim about it.
When Jim was seated in the big, comfy chair later in the evening, I decided to share my tale: “I don’t think I ever told you that I used to think that I could fly.” Now that got his attention! He eyed my half-empty glass of wine and cautiously asked, “And, when did you think you could fly?” Now that he was listening and not looking for Star Trek on television, I said: “Daddy had a big chair in the corner of the living room with a high back, just like the one you are sitting in now, except it was upholstered with ugly, orange and brown, scratchy fabric. When I was very young, skinny and adventurous, I would climb to the top of the high back of the chair and jump into the air with my arms outspread, over and over again. I imagined that I was truly flying and I just knew that I could fly even farther if I was high enough off the ground. I was positively sure that I could out-fly the boys, especially my brother! I never shared my special ability with any grownups, or I would surely have been teased about it from that day until now.” Jim nearly laughed his backside out of the chair and said, “I knew you were Super Woman, but I didn’t know it started on the ugly recliner in your parents’ living room in front of the picture window. Wish I could have been there to see you!” This time he got his reply in good order. I would have kissed him, but I didn’t want to share my germs.
The next morning on a beautiful Sunday I was feeling better, and we eased into our rental car for a short ride to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse along with a horde of other Sunday drivers. At the entrance to the town there is a majestic aqueduct. My guidebook didn’t mention this striking feature, so I was astounded! Aqueduct of Galas is more than 78 feet in height and the total length across the Sorgue River spans 522 feet. The aqueduct was built between 1854 and 1857 and has 13 semi-circular arches. It was a beauty and I intended to take more pictures from the other side of the river on the return, but somehow we made a wrong turn. Imagine that!? After I shot a few pictures and returned to the car, I found that Jim’s brain cells had been working overtime. “Super Woman, how far could you fly if you jumped from way up there?” This time he didn’t win any thoughts of a kiss for his comment.The village was once called Vaucluse, or closed valley, which is the same name as the department where Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is located. The town which is built around the spring is the major draw and it is situated at the foot of a cliff of the Monts de Vaucluse. There are many discoveries to be viewed other than the famous springs, such as: the remains of the Chateau of the Bishops of Cavaillon, dating from the fourteenth century; a column erected in 1804 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Petrarch’s birth; the Petrarch Museum library; the “Santon and Traditions of Provence” eco-museum with over 2,000 santons on display and the Geological Museum which is an underground gallery that displays information on the underground expeditions to locate the source of the river Sorgue. One museum which is in the “Just Missed It” category is the Historical Justice and Punishment Museum that is now closed. I read that it was dedicated to the history of torture and execution, established by a village resident, a last surviving French Guillotinist. Here is an oddity for you. One of the old gent’s parrots chanted the Marseillaise and the Red Flag and shouted our execution orders! Well, that’s what I read. You can fly faster than any parrot to check it out!Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is perfect for a Sunday-outing, and the local population and tourists knew it on the day of our appearance in the village. I wouldn’t want to be there during high-season when tourists rub shoulders in the crowds along the river bank. We had enough people to enjoy strolling under the shade of the plane trees. Laughter drifted from the restaurants along the river bank where people were seated like they were aboard a mini-cruise ship with the water rushing rapidly downstream. I went into a few gift shops, and I paid a ridiculous amount for a miniature, pottery Provencal house. It now stands among a row of tiny buildings on my kitchen windowsill. I paid too much, but it does reward me with memories of the enchanting place with the surging waters, the giant water wheel, colorful buildings and friendly people. Three pretty young ladies posed for me under the trees, and I said I would include them in my blog, but I chickened out. Such a shame because I catch such lovely pictures of young ones during our travels, but I’m ever so cautious about posting them.ProvenceWeb says: “The success of the village is essentially due to the impressive spring which flows out of the 230 meter high cliff. This gigantic source is the most powerful in France and fifth in the world. 630 million cubic meters of water flow from the source every year.” In 1946, Jacques Cousteau and another diver were almost killed when they attempted to reach the bottom of the spring. The air compressor used to fill their tanks had taken in its own exhaust fumes and produced carbon monoxide which almost killed them before they made it to the surface after returning from approximately 100 meters in depth. A robot reached a depth of 308 meters later in 1985.
I did my best to photograph the beautiful building that houses the Petrarch Museum. On a narrow lane, it was difficult to find a good angle for the tall building in the bright sunshine.
The poet Petrarch made this village his preferred residence in the 14th-century, writing: “The illustrious source of the Sorgue, famous for itself long ago became even more famous by my long stay and my songs.” Sounds as vain as some of the current stars, right? Don’t tell me he wouldn’t be wearing big, black sunglasses.The beautiful village inspired the poets Frederic Mistral and Rene Char as well.Two protected archaeological sites have yielded more than 1,600 antique coins from the first century BC to the 5th century AD through discoveries from cave dives.
We may need to discover our own wishing well of coins to return here, but it is worth it. Break your piggy bank and fly on over! You can fly farther than the comfy recliner! Travel safely and come back to see us again. Thank you!