Saturday 13 April 2013

early morning, Luz

It's Saturday and I've got the day off today. I wake early anyhow. As I throw wide open the shutters, the air is bitterly cold. The moon, still a pale crescent, hangs in the slate grey sky.

I am once again home alone. N went up to the Oulettes de Gaube on Friday morning in search of another backcountry classic at the foot of the Vignemale. I've had a busy couple of days teaching and am in need of another quiet weekend at home.

At half past eight, I head out of the house, wearing only a jumper. From the nearby Place St Clément, I can see the Solférino chapel veiled in the early morning mist which hangs in the valley. On the summer pastures far beyond, the clumps of blueberry bushes and ferns are now hidden beneath a thick blanket of snow. Below the hills stretches Luz. This early in the morning, the village seems to be peacefully sleeping, cradled in the valley which is still in deep blue shadow.

As the moments creep by, the sun starts to gild the western hilltops which dwarf the village, striking gold on snowcapped summits. These illuminated peaks form part of the Pyrenees, the chain of mountains which rises from the Atlantic coast and stretches all along the Spanish border towards the Mediterranean.

As I stand in the square slightly shivering despite my coat, the frustrations and worries of the last few days are soon forgotten. This mountainous landscape that I am devouring with my eyes is a small slice of the Vallée de Barège, also known as the Pays Toy.

We may be only in early spring in my adopted corner of the Pyrenees. But after the flurries of snow of last week, the sun has returned...and it feels wonderful.

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