by Francesca Rheannon
In 2001, one week after the 9/11 attacks, I arrived in the rugged, sparsely populated region of southern France’s Haute Provence for a long-planned stay. I had come to write about my father’s role in one small corner of a decades-old war, World War II, but found myself paralyzed by 9/11 and the U.S. response. In this frightening new reality, the book seemed irrelevant. But, as I tried to come to grips with this world torn apart, an entirely different book emerged, one I came to call “Province of the Heart.”
I settled in a tiny village of no more than one hundred souls, in the shadow of the mountain where the great Provençal writer Jean Giono had once created a community of visionaries dedicated to the land and its people.
Over the eight months I lived there, that land and its people stitched my world back up again, through the deep succor of the relationship between humans and the natural world that embraced them. Yet my neighbors were no innocents living out of time; instead, they clung more fiercely to the beauty they had for knowing how much it was threatened.
The following is one story from Province of the Heart, “The Cure Hunter.” Continue reading