Water-winged children splash doggy-paddlers in this river playground of butterflies, helicopter hoppers, revellers in the sunshine. A life-jacketed dog (most peculiar), swims for her life. Cicadas play in the background heat, trees singing out their wildness. Dogs walk their owners at the shallow end. It is one of the odder sights. The Cevennes breeze offers only light relief, waiting for the Sahara plume to arrive in the morning. The rocky sentinel stands watch, from a distance, as it did for our ancient grandmothers, enjoying a day out.


We pitched our tent, finding ourselves in landing fields of countless French butterflies; they hardly stopped, families having somewhere to go, their winged aircraft colours, a riot of wildness. Don’t imagine, he said, you will have more insights on vacation. Perhaps not, I thought. And yet, stopping here by the river, with bird song and butterflies, we see and hear the world quite differently.

The reference to the conversation comes from Jerry Colonna, adapted.

Near Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Corrèze, France


We found ourselves camping in the landing fields of countless butterflies; they hardly stopped, their winged aircraft of colours, a riot of wildness. Don't imagine you will gain more insights on vacation, he laughed. Perhaps not, I thought.

And yet, just stopping here by the river, with birdsong and dragonfly families having somewhere to go, the flight of the butterflies catches a wildness in me I never thought possible.

Reference to the conversation is adapted from Jerry Calonna.

Near Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Corrèze, France.

Early afternoon voyages

Butterfly flights, elixir petals, their guide path. River boat cruises paddle lightly as puppies on their maiden voyages, float past. The occasional blue dragonfly landing lightly. I’ve never seen blue like that. The river sun hovers overhead, heating up. The early afternoon tubers. The water carries their laughter.

Camping La Champagne, Brivezac, France, July 2019

The position we find ourselves in

I know. I know. Showing off again. River sounds, canoeists almost white water rafting, just down stream. A splash and a squeal, children playing as if there is no growing up to do. We sit scrambling our eggs, baguette batons buttered lightly, finding ourselves in the direct path of butterflies on their way, finding a river breeze.


Today, in the crowds of ambling shoppers, downtown for the odd provision, I flash-backed to the moments in the shade of the thorn tree, us children herded there by our ancient grandmothers, scanning the skyline for predators. We had a picnic of delights of wild figs and biltong, the only crowds – wildebeest and buck – grazing nearby.

Note to readers:

Biltong is dried, cured meat.

Getting over

He said,
As a guide to getting over yourself,
you settle into yourself, rather than shooing away 
the troublesome things.
If it falls away, it does so by itself.
You cannot make it directly happen.

Settle. Stop for a moment.
The risk of surprise and staying present often unsticks us.
We do not, he said, have to be at the mercy of our neuroses.

And when you settle into yourself, remember:
How you talk to yourself is as important as how you speak to others.

Inspired by ‘Advice Not Given’ by Mark Epstein.