The morning started with an overcast sky and clear light. There was no mist in the Luberon and the overexposured sky was bought down a stop or two to grey. Daylight saving has ended. The sun and I now got up at a reasonable hour.
Although rain threatened we decided to walk the fire trails beneath the mountains. When Peter Mayle wrote A Year in Provence a fire trail went from his house into Menerbes. Just saying.
The road wound through narrow passageways between high banks of dry stone walls keeping back the hills, and the trees covered in vines made arches over our heads. Most leaves had turned russet, coral and yellow in the two and a half weeks since we arrived. Today the wind gusts sent the trees on the ridges into a frenzy. It sounded like the rush of a waterfall. Leaves rained on us.
We came out into a hidden valley with the mountains on all sides. Horses grazed in the front paddock of an old stone farm house on the left. On the right, rows of yellowed vines ran to the base of the hill. A two storey house nestled among them under a large oak tree.
The road then switched up the mountain heading away from any chance this was Peter Mayle’s fire trail. We turned back.
Another fire trail took us behind the D3 and the houses that fronted it. Peter Mayle had said he lived two kilometres away from Menerbes on the road to Bonnieux.
We walked a long way. I peered over walls. No, I didn’t climb them. I have some dignity. But if you walk up the hill a little, away from the farm houses you can sometimes see over.
A cloud emerged from behind the mountain that looked like a large black spaceship.
Some ingenious or desperate farmer had planted a dense stand of bamboo. Now that desire for privacy deserved respect. But he wasn’t anywhere near the two kilometre mark so I left him to it.
We heard gun shots echoing off the mountains.
The whole sky blackened.
We talked about turning back. We have our waterproof coats and an umbrella, I said. It’s hunting season, he said. Stravinsky’s family wouldn’t have uttered a peep in opposition, I said. We walked on.
And there was a stone farmhouse. The fire trail behind. A swimming pool out the back and an enclosed courtyard. A little further along the trail went out to the main road and we circled around to the front of the house. There were the cherry trees and a line of cypresses.
We found Peter Mayle’s house. We think.
The rain held off on the long walk home. As we came into view of the village the dark cloud lifted off the castle like a halo.
It’s a sign, I said. A sign of what? he asked.
That’s the thing writers know about signs. Sometimes you have to wait for them to reveal themselves.