Violets and Wood Smoke (de Violette et Fumée de Bois)
The way to Berniquaut is uphill. The ground is covered with plum petals, a snow flurry of palest pink across the footpath, where earth is mounded up on the sides, tunneled over by hedges that weave wooden digits together.
The petal snow blows. I pull up my hood and I am walking a medieval path at eventide, beads in hand, the old prayers murmuring on my lips Hail…full of grace…blessed art…I must climb to the ancestral town and bring news of approaching weather before the bells strike seven. I am calmed by the enclosure of the climb into the embrace of the wood, emerging onto the butte, the view over the plains to Toulouse.
The flowering of Spring has begun, the birds sing. My downcast eyes pick out verbena citronnée, primevére, heliborus, euphorbe, gentiane de bois pushing up through dirt brown duff. Field bunnies run ahead uphill, into leafless brambles, down hidden holes. Flower petals tumble down my long robes.
The roman cart track is strewn with broken granite as I reach the top of the ridge, the abandoned citadel of Berniquaut. The sky is the deep pastel blue for which we long in our wode-dyed cloth for les vêtements de la riche – the deeper the blue, the higher the price they will pay.
I mount the butte and survey the rolling plain to Revel, St Felix and Toulouse on the left, Dourgne and Castres on the right. The air in the valley is la rose de la brique de Toulouse et de l'ail de Lautrec, fortelling the warmer light of summer to come. No rain tomorrow. The sky is clear to the horizon; the wind blows dry, if cold. I knot a shawl around my shoulders and descend in the falling dark to bring my report to the abbot. The sides of the hedge-covered path pull me close, breathing their night scent into my hair. Down where the sun plays in the day, un corps de ballet de violettes dances down the hillside, purpling the sky with perfume. The pruning fires of the villagers send smoke signals to the stars. The light fades and I hurry home à la sonnerie de l'Angelus par les cloches sur le cou des chèvres et dans la tour de l'église (to the chiming of the Angelus by the bells at the throats of the goats and in the tower of the church).