In 2010, Amour died; he was my last and most dearly loved horse. His passing brought on a terrible sadness for me. Tears flooded my eyes whenever I passed the pasture he lived in; without his silhouette coming out of the fog, it looked forlorn and empty. I used to call his name, over and over again, Amour, Amour!; it always brought this intelligent being, snorting steamy breath, to me. His reward, an apple and petting on his beautiful mane; my reward, gratitude for his presence in my life. He was a huge part of my life during the years I lived alone on the Montagne Noir. He had, in fact made me feel like a child; animals can do that to us you know. Now, I am no longer a child, but a married woman in an entirely new chapter of my blessed life.
Soon after Amour’s passing, I needed surgery to replace an artificial knee that was worn out; and, to top this, I once again had to be in hospital for back surgery as well. The healing for these procedures took the better part of two years, and during my recovery I resigned myself to getting older, doing less, reading more, and living a more sedentary life. Sadness and boredom set in, and it was clear that this path was not truly for me. Questions of what made me happy? what would I truly like to do? Days passed with no answers.
Then, one morning, I woke up earlier than usual, and lay mulling in the quiet of the pre-dawn. In this quiet space, I imagined myself slowly traveling along quiet roads, accompanied solely by the clopping of horse’s hooves. I felt this fantasy, not just as an idea but it awoke in me an energy. I saw myself stopping for the night, laying in a field under an enormous tree, in a pasture under the stars, only distracted by the sound of my horse chomping on fresh grasses. This moment was so clear to me, and I simply knew–I knew that this was the picture I wished to live. The ‘gypsy in my soul’ rose. I know I would enjoy such a pace and such a closeness to nature. The more I imagined this place, the more I began to see how to make this dream a reality: Toti Bleu is the name given to the gypsy wagon, the wagon synched with a set of horses, that appeared in my heart and in my mind.
This idea was deepend when my husband announced that he would build a sailboat of his own design and sail across the Atlantic. Loving him as I do, I could only support and encourage him to do whatever would make him happy; but a sailor’s life on the open sea would not bring solace in me. Instead, I was stuck with the shades of grey without him being there. Books would not be enough to keep me engaged during his absence. And, the clop-clop-clopping of my own dream continued to echo into possibilities. He drew his boat schematics; I drew my gypsy wagon. He clarified the sails of his dream, I saw the horses; he drew with pencil and ruler, I painted with gouache.
Both of our dreams, united in our respect and appreciation for each other, remain on paper for the moment. We spend our days refining these images with more precision. We are both moving towards manifesting our dreams. I have decided to up the ante by committing to this blog, one that will document how a 21st century woman creates an actual gypsy wagon, secures horses and learns how to work them in this special way, and travels the country sides of the most beautiful landscapes of the South of France slowly…….slowly like a tortoise.
Would you like to travel with me as I turn this dream into reality? This can happen in several ways:
You can simply follow my blog as I turn my drawings over to a Polish fabricator of travel wagons to see what is necessary for their creation, as I figure ways to generate the funds necessary to complete this old world vehicle; as I create the inner environment of a travel wagon with paint, necessities, and my own ingenuity; as I research the type of horses needed for such a cart, discover how to secure a set, and learn the demanding training of a pair of animals to pull me into my dream. These are the topics to follow. Please follow my blog if you are drawn to this nomad’s vision. It will cost a bit of money to realize this old-world form of transportation; if you would like to contribute to the realization of my dream, I gladly accept any and all donations.
At some point, when this becomes reality,I will offer a weekend or a week’s stay with me on this quiet paced travel mode, to breathe differently, to move with a closeness to nature, to eat meals in the ambitious fields of sunflowers prevelant in this area of France, and to de-program from the digital, high-paced, techno-realities of most of our lives; you can reserve a spot.
However, if all you would like to do is follow along with this traipse into a gentler way of living, please continue to read as it unfolds and matures.
*Toti: Hatian Creole for ‘tortoise’
*Roulotte: French for ‘gypsy wagon’