Although I have been happy in many places, some settings have mattered to me more than others. Some locations, natural features, and architecture are etched on my mind. Of course, the setting of my childhood is the one that left its first imprint.
When I was a child growing up in Normandy, I had more physical freedom that I gave to my four children who grew up in New England and California. My family lived in a small village, and although my parents were more attentive than most of my classmates’ parents, I walked to my elementary school, ran grocery errands for my maman and bought cigarettes for my papa at the café when I was only six or seven years old.
But it is when I got my first bike that I really discovered the backroads of my neighborhood. Rain or shine you could find me biking as soon as my homework was finished. I was a good student, but I remember rushing through an assignment in order to bike. Just behind my family home ran a small country road that nobody, except residents, used. My maman let me bike there, alone or with my sister and friends, as long as I was home for dinner. I keep fond memories of biking expeditions with my sister and friends, but this is alone that I liked biking best.
On my bike I forgot that I was a kid and had to follow rules.
On my bike I saw the world like a kid sees it: impossibly big, exciting and also a little scary.
When I pedaled I loved the hand of the wind on my face and its fingers messing up my hair. The rain splashed on each side of my bike when I rode through a puddle and I was crossing a river. On cold winter days the sun was a scarf around my neck. On hot summer afternoons it burnt my calves and shoulders and I forgot that I lived in Normandy.
But what I loved best was the ability to drop my bike on the side of the road to venture beyond the fenced fields, which define Normandy.
What waited for me at the end of this shaded path?
Heart slapping in my chest I would slowly make my way through the thick bushes, impatient and frightened at the same time.
Back home, cheeks flushed and ravenous, I would quickly wash my hands before sitting at the kitchen table.
Did you have a good time? my maman would ask me.
She had no idea that I was just arriving from a trip at the edge of the world.
I’d like to invite Nicki to this Five Photos Five Stories Challenge. In her writing setting takes a big role.
The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are simple:
1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!