I stand on the balcony in the dark and listen: A rooster crows. Faintly, church bells. Other than that, nothing. Nothing at all. It’s as dark as despair, as still as a trance. If the moon made sounds I’d hear that too. It’s waning, only a few days distant from full, and the trees cast moonshadow.
This is morning in Martizay. My breaths on the balcony are the first breaths of the day.
The homes here are summer homes for the most part, and most residents are away. Housing is low density: each parcel of land measures about an acre, peacefully nestled upon the River Claise. On the other side of the houses, the road is narrow, hardly wide enough for two cars to pass, but there are no cars; there may have been no cars for hours. There are no traffic lights, no streetlights, and at this time of day, few lights in windows. The few people who live here in winter—people are the noisiest critters of all—are still asleep.
I contrast this with our high-rise apartment in the heart of Portland. On sixteen floors, four hundred people occupy an area measuring 200 by 200 feet. There’s a balcony there too, and it was first thing I visited in the morning there as well. There, the noise of the city is incessant, although not from roosters or churchbells. There are always cars on Burnside and in the early morning, trucks with reverse warning horns unloading at the market across the street. People with voices in their heads shout incoherent replies. Sirens cry. Light from the city is unremitting; office buildings glow as if there is no night. In the city, moonshadow is as elusive as the perfect martini.
Each place has its own charm. Three months in Martizay will be as cathartic as three months in a meditative retreat, without the namastes and the yoga. I’m sure I’ll be eager for my return to city life, just as I was eager for life in the country. It’s my privilege to have both.
Credit for photo at top: http://davidleahy.smugmug.com/