Ragtag Tuesday: Rugged rocks

We both had an affair on holiday. It was a delight while it lasted, and when it ended, as it had to, there were no hard feelings. We’d like to do it again.

We both fell in love with the Corrèze in the Limousin. As far as the eye could see there were majestic rolling hills: forested, green, largely uninhabited other than by the occasional herd of Limousin cattle. Settlements were well-ordered and charming towns and villages, often demonstrating a history dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond. Of course we were smitten.

Then we continued on to our old stamping ground in the Ariège. Not all of this département is actually in the Pyrenees, but the mountains are always visible. And as soon as we saw them again, we knew our affair was over.

The foothills of the Pyrenees – the Plantaurel – from our friends’ house in Laroque.

The Pyrenees tug at our hearts like no other landscape. The gentle foothills are given added character by the backdrop of the mountains. We used to watch for the first flurries of snow on the peaks, maybe in September, while we were still in t-shirts.

When we lived in Laroque, this was our view from our roof terrace, and my daily joy as I hung out the washing there.

Anyone living in the Ariège could name the peaks, count them as their friends – Le pic de Saint-Barthélemy, le Pic des Trois Seigneurs, Montségur. Locals would tell you, every spring, exactly how little snow should remain on the high slopes before you could plant your spuds and beans. They would be the ones to relish the mountains in every way. They’d grab their snowshoes as the snow deepened to enjoy a silent walk in the crisp, cold empty landscape.

No snowshoes here. Just a rugged, snowy walk near Montaillou.

They’d know where to look for alpine strawberries in summer, and have secret places that they wouldn’t tell their closest friends about where they’d gather mushrooms in autumn.

They loved the rugged beauty of the mountains as we did, from the majesty of the snow-covered peaks, to the riot of wild daffodils, then gentians in spring, to the muted soft green palette of the hillsides at dusk on a summer’s evening, to the rich russets and golds of the autumn woodland.

I can’t visit the mountains though without being aware they demand our respect. They’re mighty, rugged and visually stunning. As we gaze at lines of rock, crumpled in geological eras long past, as we look at tumbled boulders lining the valley floor, or delicate but dangerous sheets of scree, they remind us that, compared with them, we are here on earth for a very short space of time. They have witnessed civilisations and religions rise and fall, harboured refugees from war and conflict, provided impenetrable barriers to would-be conquerors and generally put us in our place. It’s this combination of love and respect for them that draws me and moors me to them. Mere hills and plains simply can’t compete.

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is ‘Rugged’.

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Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

32 thoughts on “Ragtag Tuesday: Rugged rocks”

  1. This is probably what my husband feels when he talks mountains…. Being Swiss, you’d think that mountains are feeling totally natural to us, and to many they do – however, not to me. I GREATLY admire your wonderful shots of the Pyrenées, I even feel your undying love for them and yet – I’d still be happier near a river, a lake, or the sea. Your photographic skills are so impressive, it is a delight to walk along in your footsteps and I thank you for that!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. absolutely! That’s why my most and best loved part of Switzerland is the Swiss side of the Lac Léman with the French Alps on the other side – on a lower level of attractivity the same thing happens with other lakes – as long as I don’t need or have to climb up them it’s all good!

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  2. Such a beautiful mountain view. Does anyone live further up or just in the foothills these days? Castles and monasteries aside, and perhaps even within their walls, it looks a very harsh existence even for the 21st century.

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    1. Oh, no, there are settlements quite high up, towns too. As far as villages go though, they’re more likely to be owned by second homers these days, which doesn’t exactly help them to be vibrant communities.

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      1. Always a difficult balance between locals and second homers. I suppose in many wilder places it is the difference between empty half the year or empty the whole year!

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  3. Ha, ha, I loved the beginning lines of your post. I’d be hard-pressed not to fall in love with that landscape as well. It’s wonderful isn’t it how being in nature’s presence helps us have a less anthropocentric mentality?

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  4. I do love a mountain backdrop, preferably with lakes or water, but I’ve seldom been in the situation. Something to treasure. For now I’ll make do with my rolling hills. 🙂 🙂

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