Written By Jenn
A few weeks ago, our new friends Delphine and Fred took us to the Gorges d’Heric, one of the natural wonders of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France. We drove an hour north from Agde into the heart of the Haut-Languedoc Nature Park, passing stunning picture postcard views of vineyards heavily pregnant with dripping gems of grapes. Autumn’s footprint was slowly treading on the reddish earth, scorching green vines with amber leaves. The sky was a clear ocean blue, which promised to bring another unusually hot fall day.
We were thrilled to be spending time with our new French friends. Our kids loved playing with Delphine and Fred’s children, Baptiste and Faustine. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know them. We’re learning so much from each other, and enjoy comparing our Canadian and French idiosyncrasies, delighting in the differences. Their friendship has opened a way for us to dig deeper into our French cultural immersion.
The hike up into the gorge was pleasantly exhilarating. Somewhere along the way we descended from the trail to investigate the rock pools. The water lingering between the rock was refreshingly cool and clear.
Immediately the children peeled off their layer of clothing and began exploring in their bathing suits.
Delphine and I decided to climb a little deeper up into the gorge and explore, while Brian and Fred visited by the shaded area close to the children. I brought my expensive Canon SLR camera with me to take pictures from atop the boulders, taking my shoes and socks off to experience the refreshing spring seeping through the rocks.
A matter of seconds was all it took.
During our return to the children, I tumbled into the water. Slipping ungracefully, I soaked my bottom and half of my precious camera. I think I yelled out some unflattering expletives too, relieved that the noise of laughing water had drowned out my poo-poo words from the kids.
“Je suis une idiote!” I wimpered to Delphine as she looked on in silent horror.
I was embarrassed and angry with myself for being so wreckless…..well, cocky with my Canon Rebel xsi. Yes, that’s the word – cocky. I had lugged my sacred, expensive camera with me to several countries: climbing a giant Sahara desert dune in Morocco; through the cold, rainy weather of Christmas in Rome; on a rocky gondola ride, skimming dangerously too close to the sludgy Grand Canal in Venice; even out sea fishing in the Aegean Sea in Turkey. So I thought, why not to the Heric Gorges? I’d be extra careful in the water.
The exasperating part was that I knew better! I should have listened to that quiet whisper in the back of my head warning me to keep the camera with the men while Delphine and I tiptoed through wet rocks and treacherous boulders. Like always, I wanted to get a good shot. I listened instead to my overconfident voice and was in turn humbled by the experience.
At the time, I actually thought my camera was fine. After leaving it to dry out for a few hours, it turned on, which gave me a false relief that no sustainable damage occurred. I only discovered the true error of my misconception when I tried to take a picture two weeks later, and Error 99 would pop up on the display screen after the normal click and flash of the camera shot. I’ll need to bring it in (or perhaps send it away) to a Canon expert who will tell me my camera’s prognosis. I am hoping it will still be salvageable.
The picture below was the last shot I took before I baptized my camera into the clear pools of the Heric Gorges. It found no salvation there. Sadly, the shot was against the light, and a little overexposed.
All this occurred within the first part of our arrival at the Gorge. So I couldn’t let my water damaged camera ruin our (almost) perfectly idyllic day with our new friends.
We picnicked on the rocks and enjoyed watching the children become one with nature. We laughed happily in our mangled conversations, which transitioned between French and English.
The real delight of the day was when the children discovered a deep pool hidden between the rocks. We watched enthralled with every child’s sense of fearlessness as they plunged into the inviting centre of the luminous lagoon.
Out of all the children, Faustine was the one who impressed me the most. Fighting through terrified tears and a number of frozen attempts, she finally took the plunge. The one experience was enough to satisfy her and prove to herself that she could do it. She didn’t give up and we were all very proud of her.
I believe that her silent courage and tenacity will take her far in life.
I learned two important lessons at the Gorges d’Heric that day:
1.) Listen to that inner whisper of caution, because cockiness can bring about an expensive humility (or should I say humiliation).
2.) Quiet courage can be found in the heart of a little child.
Lagoon photos courtesy of Delphine.