I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Tiny Statue Of Saint James

Climbing up into the woods above Yenne, I looked back on the village through the early morning mist. You can see that it has a wonderful situation, nestled beneath ranges of hills and mountains...


I soon reached Notre-Dame-de-la-Montagne (Our Lady of the Mountain). This chapel had won a prize for its renovation work. The sun quickly burnt off the mist and the temperature soared again...


From this belvedere I drank in stunning views of the Rhône valley...



The path that day - from Yenne to Saint Genix - was a strenuous one, traversing huge forests high above the Rhône. No sooner had you descended one slope than you were faced with another steeper one. The path was stony too, which was hard on the feet. At least the trees provided some welcome shade from the sweltering sun. I identified box, birch, oak, walnut, sycamore and sweet chestnut. More stone crosses punctuated the route...


Here's quite a new one, erected in 2008, and inscribed with the totemic Camino watchword: Ultreia! You are all expert shell-seekers by now, so I'm sure you've spotted the coquille on the shaft of the cross...


I stopped for a bite to eat at a wooden hunting lodge in the middle of the Bois de Glaize. Some pilgrims were already there, and others arrived soon afterwards. Where do they all come from? This hunting lodge and the stone cross below were two of the inspirations behind my poem 'A Prayer'...


This wayside cross, these offerings / Of stones and flowers crowding the base, / This niche / Jammed with a tiny statue of Saint James...


This could be a representation of Saint James or Saint Roch - the two are often pretty much interchangeable in these parts. Both saints are guiding lights of the Camino.

After a final hour-long slog - which took me almost to the summit of Mont Tournier - I skirted the peak and made a gradual descent out of the forest and into a gentler landscape of farm and pasture - many fields grazed by the familiar brown and white, or light brown, cattle. Just look at those impressive limestone cliffs at the head of the valley...


I finally arrived at the hamlet of Grésin, which lies just before Saint Genix, my day's destination...

3 comments:

Ruth said...

It’s almost unreal, Robert, this beauty. Your heart must have soared every morning from the belvedere of you (what a great word, belvedere).

That’s a nifty slideshow that pops up when I click on a cross picture. It’s still a bit hard to see the tiny coquille though.

If you promise not to tell, I’ll tell you that one of those names of saints is the name ascribed to my unborn grandson. And the other name is the church in Paris near the awful hotel where my sister and I stayed in 1997 of the same name, Saint-Roch, which still has bullet holes from the French revolution. There was a nickname for the hotel, la roach, but the situation near the eglise made for soothing choir and organ music each evening as we made our way up the stair to our room, weary-legged. Isn’t it wonderful the things that work their way into your heart when you’re tired?

OK, that was a long one.

George said...

Inspiring photos, Robert, and I especially enjoyed the link which permitted me to go back and read the 2008 post, "Ultreia." Ultreia, indeed! Walk on, walk further, now and forevermore.

The Solitary Walker said...

'The belvedere of you.' Oh, I like that. I won't tell a soul, Ruth, about your future grandson's name. Promise! The story of Saint-Roch is a wonderful one. Do read up on it if you don't know it already. Despite the Parisian roaches, you seem to have had a memorable time. Thanks so much for your long comment ...

And George, my friend ... yes, let's walk on for evermore.