Well, kids, my summer vacation is over.Â Ever since Monday, I’ve been back at school.Â That’s a good thing, in some ways; it’s great to see my colleagues again, to get to know new students and visit with the old ones.Â I always maintain that the life of an English teacher (aside from the never-ending grading) is a pretty darn good one.Â I mean, in what other profession do you get to spend your daysÂ discussing the intricacies of The Great Gatsby?
That said, the re-entry into the school routine is always a shock to the system.Â Â The first few weeks, I always feel like I’m walking around with a bad case of jetlag.Â And this year, the start of the school year has been particularly frantic, for a whole smorgasboard of reasons.Â I’m longing to escape someplace beautiful and quiet and peaceful, someplace warmed by the sun and fragrant with flowers, someplace where life moves at a leisurely pace.
Someplace kind of like this, in fact:
This is the Abbey of SÃ©nanqueÂ in Gordes, France.Â It is an old Cistercian abbey, started in 1148.Â I visited it ten years ago, when Scott and I were on our honeymoon in Provence.Â It was in a sun-baked valley, with rows and rows of lavender in bloom, and our visit there remains one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Actually, all of Provence was heart-stoppingly gorgeous.Â Thanks to my sister-in-lawÂ Kathy, who literally makes her living traveling the world and finding great places to visit, we booked our lodgings at an absolutely idyllic inn, a restored eighteenth-century house.Â It had vast gardens and a view of the mountains out of the small window in our room and a terrace under the trees where they served morning breakfasts that looked like this.
I’d go back in a heartbeat.Â And sometimes, when I’m rushing to get out the door in the morning and the dirty laundry is overflowing out of the hamper and the boys have no pants to wear that don’t have huge rips in the knees and I feel as though I’m barely holding it all together, I slip back there in my memory.Â I smell the lavender and taste the fresh coffee and baguette with unsalted butter and feel the sun on my face and remember the tawny dusty roads, the hill towns, and the lovely leisurely pace of it all.
It’s one of my very favorite happy places.