Friday, July 24, 2009

Le Tour de France arrive

sault2

I awoke early. As I watered the lavender, I felt a warmth on my back and the flower bed was suddenly illuminated. I turned, and saw the sun rise above the shoulder of the Mont Ventoux.

I am not a competitive sports kind of person. I like walking, swimming, jogging. Solitary stuff. A deux at most. I am wondering what it is that excites me about the Tour de France passing by us. Julian is riveted and has managed, for the past three weeks, to paint whilst having it on the screen to the side of his easel. All I know is that I love Lance and want one of those wrist bands, and that if I look closely, he will be the one en danseuse with black socks. And that there is a British guy. Not enough, surely, to fire me up?

Last night I came back from town at eight. It was still thirty degrees and Madame Ventoux was all pink and had a cloud would round her like a feather boa. Meanwhile, camper vans and tents were beginning to line the route the cyclists will take tomorrow.

This morning Julian and I took a trip to Sault. As we drove around the flanks of the mountain we could see a glinting ring of what looked like diamonds circling its neck. Camper vans never looked so pretty.

The Lavender capital was getting ready. The Tour de France van was putting up its arrows and Sault had its lavender and wheat prayer flags flying, but apart from that business was as usual and the harvest continued.

sault3

Meanwhile, in our fridge, we had a dodgy map of road closures, a leg of lamb, lots of cute aubergines and three kilos of the last cherries for our Tour Barbecue. And nine anticipated guests. If they could get through the road closures.

ventoux

We drove home. We drove up and down the mountain, up out of the valley of lavender, into the pine forest and down into the vineyards and cherry trees.

I realized that what I am moved by is the waiting mountain. By noon tomorrow 700,000 people will be paying homage to 156 cyclists paying homage to her. She is so majestic in her waiting, in her receiving the puffed out sports people, puffed up locals, and tourists. Though we see her every day, she is, as ever, so very beautiful.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Julian, I have been riveted
to yhe tv for 3 weeks - Monday is
going to be a let down. I under-
stand there's no shade on Ventoux
hope the crowds aren't too
out of control - alcohol and sun
can be a bad combination.
Go Lance!

Sheila

2:58 AM  
Blogger Zuleme said...

We'll watch on TV also. It is nice to see France go by. I like your description of the mountain and the caravans.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Gemma and Clive said...

We have itv4 on now and we'll keep a look out for you! Looks v.hot today but how will the wind at the top of Mont affect the riders?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Anne and Kirk said...

Oh you invoke the spirit of the tour and of the landscape so exquisitely, Ruth - one of my favorite posts!
We are in Austin (Lance's hometown) for the weekend for our son's marriage celebration. We're taping today's etape and will be eager to watch it when we return home - we'll look for you and Julian!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

I'm always fascinated by the British penchant for using plural verbs with collective nouns. Or (to put the same thing another way) the American penchant for using singular verbs with them. On this side of the water we'd say "The Tour de France arrives."

(At first I thought "the Tour de France arrive" was a lapse into French, with "arrive" being the French singular verb, but then I realized it's more likely an English plural one.)

12:29 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

no dale, lapse into french! xxx

8:53 AM  
Blogger Zuleme said...

We watched the climb to the top of the mountain, wow. Here we have a bike race to the top of Mount Washington, known as "the home of the world's worst weather". But the racers don't do a hundred miles or so before the climb.
It looks amazing.

2:55 PM  

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