My first solo trip to Europe was 1998, to visit our daughter Johanna. She had just relocated to Italy, having had time to compare her life-experience during her college year in Firenze and what she was discovering back home after graduation. Beginning with that trip, I went every year for more than twenty years, sometimes with CB, sometimes solo, stopping only with the onset of Covid. Early on, I made a soul-connection with the prehistoric standing stones of Carnac, in Brittany, and I am about to reconnect.
Much earlier, during a family trip, we had all visited Carnac and I was fascinated with the difference between that site and Stonehenge: I could walk right up to a stone and embrace it. It was a different concept. Not a circle, it was a set of parallel lines that stretched for kilometers. That embrace engraved itself deeply, and in the trips since 1998 I kept edging closer and closer to visiting Carnac again.
I had three years of near misses. My return trip was always booked from Amsterdam, and the complicated train connections from Paris to Auray to Carnac and back to Amsterdam always left me with a connection I couldn’t make, but I kept getting closer. When I finally made it with a night to spend in the town of Carnac, I discovered that Carnac’s white-sand beaches enrapture the French vacationers, and I almost had to sleep on the street. Then I discovered the hostel on Belle Isle, a short ferry ride out to sea. It was a lovely clean affordable refuge, and on Sept 19 I will be breathing a sigh of relief to be making up my bunk bed there again after four years’ absence.
I can’t explain the soul-connection. I usually tell people, “Something in the earth there knows me.” Early on, I found an overgrown narrow path between a horse pasture and a hayfield. The fragrant flowering hedgerow had attracted a dense cloud of bees, but I took a deep breath and walked through them unharmed. When I came to a tiny grassy space, I sat down there to eat the sandwich I’d brought. In the quiet, two baby field-mice toddled out from a bush and settled down near me. I gave them breadcrunbs, and they snarfed them up. Then the young farmer who owned the land came down the little path, found me, and I explained in broken French why I was there. He welcomed me, and invited me to pet his very young new foal. He had his just-walking baby son with him, and I realized that this year’s connection was about the threads of new life. It went on from there.
In the years to come, I realized that I was feeling something inexplicable from the depths of the earth there, and I wondered if it was my imagination. One year I took my dowsing rods along. When I held them loosely in my hands and then stepped into the lines of stones, the rods almost ripped themselves out of my grasp. Yes, there is something there.
So I will have five quiet days there, three on Belle Isle, and two more at the narrow neck of the peninsula of Quiberon, where it is a short local bus trip to Carnac. I will visit the ancient cross where I have surreptitiously buried life-tokens for me and the three other strongest actresses I know—we will all be hanging out there together in the afterward, if anyone wants to find us.
I will have five days to ground, center, and reconnect. One of those days is the Autumn Equinox, smack in the center of the stay. I will savor the final steps to the summit, and the beginning of the descent.