I had the wonderful opportunity to spend Christmas in Brittany and New Year's eve in the Alps. Living in a city all year round, I can surf the urban jungle that is London with my eyes closed (well, almost). I can walk for miles in the city that I have learned to love and feel totally at home.
(La Baule beach, left and above - © Damien Juge )
We city people see the countryside as "relaxing", but it was a much more humbling experience that awaited me. Winter in Brittany is an ocean's waves crashing into the shore like an orchestra playing an ode to its awesomeness. It is all the might of mother nature facing you head on, the battered winds keeping us dangerously close to the cliff's edge. My head was spinning from the unadulterated breath of oxygen, yet the city
(La cote sauvage © Damien Juge)
girl in me kept wondering whether the cold sea spray could double as a free facial. Old habits die hard. Once home though, with my hair all over the place and mascara smeared around my eyes, what I had achieved was more the "crazy woman" look than a dewy one. I wasn't being beautified, I was detoxing.
Once in the Alps, a different sensation took over. It was high up, there was snow everywhere and it was a crisp, wonderful cold, but one that stripped away any leftover city scum that I might have left behind. I couldn't wait to get going, yet I was a lot slower and not as fit as usual. Turns out that the altitude was getting the best of me. I had to wait for my body to start producing enough red blood cells to cope with it all. By day 2, I was myself again and buzzing.
Serre Chevalier, right, above and below © Damien Juge
I did feel about 10 years older walking with snow racket shoes, but I managed to cross this winter wonderland. As I was carving footsteps into the virgin snow, I could not help but feel that this is truly how human beings were meant to live. There were so many instances when my city mind was on high alerts. Upon seeing the free running water pouring out of the village fountain, I couldn't help but feel that someone should really turn the tap off as this was wasting. And again when the hot spring offered warm running water from another fountain, I couldn't help but feel that someone's bill was going to go sky high. Nothing here is manufactured or produced, this is all courtesy of the earth's core or the mighty surrounding mountains. All that we need is out there in the world, literally.
The green (part-time) warrior in me, kept thinking that we could redirect the hot spring to provide free hot running water for the surrounding houses. However, one trip to the local baths spa where the hot spring was supposedly free flowing and after an hour soaking in the (not so natural anymore) heavily chlorinated swimming waters, it occurred to me that we, human beings when we're not busy manufacturing fake water, we're hard at work trying to sanitize what comes naturally. My skin was ruined from being soaked in chemicals. Crazy world. I am just thankful that we haven't quite managed to destroy it all yet. As far as I am concerned, I will still try to live as organically as possible in 2013; giving the green finger to the system! :)