Last weekend Arnelle and Rodger, friends I met through blogging, invited French Husband and me to join them at their home away from home in Ardeche. Arnelle gave us very good directions, directions her family from the States found without a hitch. French Husband and I weren't as clever. We were five minutes from their home, yet we were lost for over an hour. Driving up and down one lane, mostly dirt roads, reading and re-reading the directions. Basically, I think it was a French/American lost-in- translation-then-nearly-ready-to-clobber-one-another-out-of-frustration type of moments: "I said turn right! Not left, turn around, oh my God you nearly drove the car into the ditch..."
Finally, our phone service kicked in and Rodger found us, and lead the way back to their home.
Arnelle is a interior designer from San Francisco. I knew I was in for a treat extraordinaire but I wasn't ready to have my socks blown off. From the moment we drove up to the front gate my mouth fell open and I could not close it. The table was set, lunch was served and every inch was perfection.
Their home is a hamlet consisting of several smaller homes that interlock with one another:
"During the 18th century, for rich or noble, it was classic to create their own hameau (hamlet) in their gardens. A hamlet was a group of houses or farms with rustic appearance, but in fact were very comfortable. The best known in the Hameau de la Reine built by the Queen Marie-Antoinette in the park of the Château de Versailles." Via Wiki.
Arnelle and Rodger's Hamlet was a silk worm menagerie and made completely in stone.
If you have ever tried to find your monogram on old linen in France I can tell you it isn't easy.
Arnelle and Rodger found theirs.
Luck is on their side.
Arnelle is about subtle details that can easily go unnoticed but add enormously to the whole picture.
I love how she took three iris stems and made a trellis for the basil plant.
Wildflowers spring's crown.
A small view of one of the courtyards.
Their home is a few centuries old...
A few story live amongst the stones.
Arnelle and Rodger are the guardians faithfully keeping it safe as it continues on to tomorrow. Arnelle said something that struck me, that we are the guardians of these beautiful things, we need to be mindful of the history and know that these old homes have lived and will live longer than us.
Straight to my heart.
Art history. Living memory. The story objects hold and give to those who listen.
If you look on the top right hand corner of the above photo you will see a slot in the stone wall that was used to hold the long handle sauté pan.
Loved that detail that has been left intact all these years.
It is hard for me to believe that I only took a handful of photos. Not even one of the view, or of the pool, or of the bedrooms, or of the kitchen, or of the incredible meals, or of the artwork, or of the tiles, or of the amazing tub, or of the walk in fireplaces, or of the mulberry trees, or of the landscape, or of the stone work, or of the beads on the kitchen door, or of the basement, or of our walk down to the old laundry and water source, or of the king's soldiers burial ground, or of the homemade chocolate prune cake or of the bleu cheese fig crackers Arnelle made, or of Arnelle and Rodger!
What was I thinking?
I was happy in the moment. Soaking it in and letting it form memories deep within me. I am grateful for the imagery enriched with history, mindfully kept by Arnelle and Rodger's graceful touch.
Every room, each entry, stone, beam, ironwork, handle spoke of a generation no longer living yet alive.
What will we leave behind?
A future of beauty I hope.
And a kitchen window that looks out to an olive grove.