Time’s Up!

(The fishermen were out all night on the lake at Autun)

When I was walking up to the château last week the timing was set by my choice to return for French lunch at 12.30pm. I had my phone so I knew I’d know when it was time to leave. Of course when I got up there I realised I had more time so I stuck in an extra experience (coffee and… etc.) and spent the original estimate of an hour to visit the monuments. But I noticed a funny thing – without checking my phone I knew when it was time to leave and start my walk down the hill.

(Near the lake at Autun)

Denis is the best at knowing the time without looking at his phone. I think it’s because he was born on a farm and spent his childhood outdoors while I may have been doing something more interesting… like watching telly. We sometimes do this thing where I say, don’t look at your phone but tell me what time is it? (yes, there is no end to our excitement). Most of the time he will be exactly right and the odd time he might not be exact but he’ll be very close. I’m always way off so I presumed my internal clock was broken. My visit to the château and my sense of it being time to leave has given me confidence in my internal clock.

(Foggy morning on the canal near the Loire at Léré)

I might also have an internal calendar because I can feel something else in my bones – a change in the weather. The sun is only just rising now when we set off in the mornings and the temperature for the past three days has been 5 degrees or less when the clock goes off. Which is magnificent because it means there will be no clouds when the sun rises and sunrise is a beautiful thing to see. So I’ve started taking my porridge out to a bench (they are everywhere – thank you France!) and warming my hands while I sit in the presence of beauty. Of course I have warm trousers, boots, three layers of fleece and a hat but that doesn’t stop me seeing the sun and feeling the beauty. This is the same sun we humans have been counting on to rise every morning. The sun that tells us it’s a new day and we can start again.

(Léré again…)

When I’m home I rarely sit outside for breakfast so I don’t see the sunrise. I’m doing this here because I am reminded our journey will end soon and I am gathering every sunrise like I might gather shells on a beach. Anyway, yesterday when I had a feeling it was time to go home, I trusted it and now we are going home, a week earlier than planned. I absolutely knew it was the right thing to do but right after we changed the ferry tickets I began to doubt myself. It felt like there was an uncomfortably narrow funnel I had to go through to get home and I had just brought it nearer. Near enough to have a good look at it!

(We always bring out the good china for dinner… Chateau Sully on the Loire)

The problem is it was so narrow I couldn’t bring things back through it… I couldn’t possibly bring the beach with the shells, or the freezing cold sunrise, or the French benches. I have to go through on my own with nothing in my arms, no rucksack on my back. It has a sister funnel – the one I go through when we leave Ireland. In that going away funnel I can’t bring my family, I can’t bring my friends, I can’t bring all my art supplies.

(Chateau Sully)

Well, until now I thought I couldn’t bring things through the funnels… but I’ve been looking and I see there is a little space for me to hide things. Like my internal clock and calendar no one will notice I have them… except me. When my internal clock told me it was time to leave the château last week it was right. We all have a working internal clock but we’ll only use it if we trust it…

(Sunrise at motorway services on the A10…)

It’s the same for that space we have for hiding things, the things we can’t bring with us in our arms or on our backs. If we trust that space is real then maybe leaving will be easier. Because nothing really gets left behind.

We’re coming home, Mairead.