Land, countryside, music, relaxation, simplicity, art de vivre—so many images and perspectives tucked away in a single word: country. As luck would have it, I am gazing out absent-mindedly into a distant sea of greens, in the midst of a land rich in history, dotted with castles, rivers, glades and secrets. From my earliest childhood I have always been a city girl who grew up surrounded by asphalt and streetlamps, so the oaks, firs, valleys and meadows make my head spin. To me the countryside harbors many mysteries, and the weather means something different here than it does elsewhere—all you have to do is follow a trail of sunshine or a procession of clouds. As I lie beneath the branches, I am able to escape, telling myself that the world’s my oyster. I hum a song by Patsy Cline (my favorite country singer), letting the sweet refrain rock me gently: “I’m back in baby’s arms / How I missed those lovin’ arms / I’m back where I belong / Back in baby’s arms.” I embrace my freedom as if it were an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long while. If I’m looking for the country I’ve come from, isn’t it this one—nature—a country without borders where everybody speaks all languages, those of people and animals alike? A country where you dream all dreams, where you stop to smell the sweet scent of the lilacs in early spring. Where you carve your initials on some remote tree in a quiet little wood that you may never find again. So I leave behind the city-dweller I am and become the person I was as a child, endlessly repeating to myself these verses I wrote recently: “Everything is intact / Fossils of memory / Pearls of the past / I come back again today / Climb up the same branch / From where I observe for hours the adjacent field / A cabin made of nothing / A world open to the world / My landscapes.”*
* From “Paysages,” Pauvre chanson, Gallimard, coll. L’Arbalète.