Reflections upon Seasons Past and Present
It’s been a little over a month since we left the north coast of Cornwall.
We drove off in the afternoon, stopped for a spell in Lyme Regis, and continued on throughout the remainder of the evening beneath the full moon of August to our friend Kate’s house, a short drive from our former hometown of Lewes, the county town of East Sussex.
When I started this post, it was, likewise, beneath the full moon, the harvest moon of September. But this time the moon shone upon us in South West France, in the Midi-Pyrénées. We’re house- and pet-sitting at a place scarcely to be imagined, so tucked away are we in our own hundred-acre world surrounded by rolling Tuscan-like hills replete with grape-laden vineyards and fields full of sunflowers, their gleaming yellow heads just recently bowed to the inevitability of autumn.
But, still, it’s beautifully warm here, even in the evening as we walk the dips and crests of the land, or down the long, curving drive with our two charges alongside us, the lusciously languid warmth of the waning day mixing in a moment with the relative cool of the dells, while hundreds of frogs hover about the pond chorusing a prelude to their nightly jaunt to higher ground.
It’s mid-afternoon as I write, and a murder of crows squawk on about whatever it is crows talk about when the sun’s beaming, the soil’s exhaling that pungent smell of summer, and countless sunflower seeds are free for the picking, along with an endless supply of grapes dangling temptingly such that you can often see scores of the black-winged birds bobbing up and down like children in a bouncy castle as they grab one more drop of sun-sweetened fruit and fall like Icarus back to earth.
Throughout the past month, Mufidah and I have felt this place almost too good to write about, or to share in pictures. There’s something deep-set within us both which whispers a soft word of wisdom, or the faintest of suggestions, to remain somewhat mum about the whole affair, not to be secretive, but respectful of the quiet, unassuming dignity of the place which is our autumnal home this year.
I felt this way, too, when I was the guardian of another gorgeous home atop Mt. Atalaya in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Despite the homeowners encouraging me to have my fellow graduate students come up for parties and what-not, I only ever invited a few friends over, and almost always just one person at a time. There was something sacred about the place, much as with this place located outside of Gaillac. It feels a treasure to hold close to one’s heart, and to appreciate mostly from within.
This has also been a time of reflection for us both, a bit of respite from the slow travels of this past spring and summer, between leaving Spain in April, driving north through France in a week, and then moving from one beautiful part of Britain to another, before finally ferrying back across the Channel in late August, and then through France again to where we are now.
A time of slowing down, of stilling ourselves, and considering various directions towards which we could move, both literally and metaphorically. Throughout, we’ve also been helping clients to fire up their online presence and prowess, and doing loads of research into this and that, including learning how to code. Not just websites, per se, but back-end applications as well as a way to perhaps develop a high-tech startup somewhere along the way.
This was a world in which I once swam, going to monthly gatherings with venture capitalists, and working with the various clients of the management consulting firm I founded in 1995. And, so, I’ve likewise been boning up on the latest sage wisdom concerning best practices for high-growth, high-tech startups. A world which I had deliberately left behind thirteen years ago, after saying no to a particularly attractive offer to CEO a startup founded by a British entrepreneur who was at the time developing bleeding-edge Palm technologies, an obvious precursor to developing phone apps. This came fresh on the heels of my having just worked for nine months as the interim CIO for a large, geographically dispersed division of a Fortune 100 company. My charge, then, was helping the division to explore and exploit, again, bleeding-edge, IP technologies, the stuff which we, thirteen years later, take pretty much for granted, including VoIP technologies like Skype.
Now, in the hills above Gaillac — during that traditional time of year which invites a turning within as we shift from the heady days of summer to a somewhat slower time when the leaves begin to twirl in the wind before tumbling and gathering on the ground — I can feel the tell-tale early stirrings of something new which might one day lead to places presently unimaginable. Until then, we’ll be here, Mufidah and I, savoring these final days of September and the rest of the autumn to come.
Sean M. Madden is a writer-educator, photographer and slow traveler. A digital nomad, he’s also co-founder of Creative Thunder, helping creative individuals and small businesses to fire up their online presence and prowess. To get a free copy of the inspiring Creative Thunder Manifesto, click here.