First off… I hope you’ll allow me the latitude to not go into a “Coronavirus in France” update. It’s as crazy here as it is elsewhere. I think we all need a bit of a Corona-break, don’t you?
Let me focus on an incredibly positive part of the week instead. Deal? 🙂
Last weekend began like any other, but then on Saturday night I realized that we were going to need to change to things up on Monday, rather than following our normal rhythm… well, at least for Sophie & I.
Let me explain…
Remember me telling you how impressed I was with how the kids organized themselves and worked diligently during their 2 week school break? Well… that took its toll on Soph and in an otherwise normal conversation Saturday night, I realized the extent to which she was overwhelmed with the workload and the near complete absence of downtime over what was supposed to be a break.
I suggested (and she agreed) that rather than going to school Monday, she could come with me to Angers and after I was done teaching, we could do something completely different to get her mind off of work.
When I asked if there was anything in particular that she’d like to do, her answer…
“I haven’t been to the ocean in a long time.”
We decided that after class, we’d drive out to Noirmoutier Island, on France’s west coast, where we’d be surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
The Ocean & Home
To understand the pull of the ocean, you must know that in Canada, we lived roughly a 5-minute drive from a bay on the Atlantic Ocean and it wasn’t uncommon to stroll along the pebbly-sandy beach a couple of times per week during fine weather.
The salty smell of the ocean therefore has a strong connection to a sense of home for us… scouring the shoreline for shells, smooth stones and sea-glass. It’s a place of peace and security, even amidst the sound of crashing waves.
Monday started out as the first Sunny day that we’d had in several weeks. By afternoon though, clouds were coming in from the west and upon our arrival – some 2 hours or so later – light showers had begun and would remain with us for the remainder of the afternoon, on and off.
That didn’t dampen our spirits though. In fact, perhaps it made it just a little bit more like home as we were often surrounded in fog along the Fundy Coast.
Ragged Coves & Beach Huts
We parked the car on Allée des Soupirs (Sighing Alley) and collected shells on the Plage des Souzeaux (Souzeaux Beach) before hiking a short trail to Anse Rouge (Red Cove) which was lined with beach huts on stilts.
We walked the beach and took lots of pictures while avoiding the waves that constantly tried to douse our feet as the tide rose.
The Rising Tide… It’s been so long since I had to think about the tide schedule. Though we accessed the island by bridge, it would’ve been possible to get to the island by a tidal roadway had we arrived earlier in the day.
(note to self: check the tide schedule next time so we can take the seabed road)
The hiking trail then took us up across a rocky, windswept-oak-covered bluff. Had the trees been evergreens, one could’ve almost imagined the Irving Nature Park back home.
The Ladies’ Beach Pier
For a while, we abandoned the trail and descended right down to the water’s edge (likely not encouraged, particularly at high tide, but little did anyone know… we were ocean-side pros!)
By the time we came back up to the trail, we could see l’estacade, the pier at La Plage des Dames (The Ladies’ Beach).
Of course it begged being walked on… by a lady… ‘neath an umbrella.
We didn’t go out all the way because two fishermen were managing at least 7-8 fishing rods and the last thing we needed was to catch a hook in the head. So we began to make our way back toward the car.
Without asking, Soph slipped her hand in my arm… and I melted a little inside.
We made our way back to the car, bought a few souvenirs, stopped for supper and arrived home shortly before midnight. It was a long day and I was glad to get home… but even more glad we went. Soph had a wonderful day. We had a great day together – many privileged hours in the car & along the beach, punctuated with great conversation and a shared sense of wonder.
The Lord is Good
Appreciate your prayers this week as we prepare for an outreach team coming from Bordeaux next weekend and deal with Coronavirus fallout.
God bless you this week!