Sometimes I think that blogging today is not unlike what having "pen pals" used to be-- like Julia Child and Avis Devoto! All those virtual conversations, traded posts and comments can add up to meaningful connections. Heather and I started our blogs about the same time and "met" almost two years ago. When we figured out that we both had befriended the same elephant in Botswana, I knew were kindred spirits. Her thoughtful emails were a huge encouragement while I struggled to help my parents last winter. And she, of course, was a vocal cheerleader of our idea travel to Provence to join our friends over the summer.
In person Heather is as lovely as the city she writes about and photographs so distinctively.
And generous, too. Did I mention that in Provence, I traveled in a pack? -- Mr. H., my friends Heidi and Angel, and their daughters Penelope (11) and Paloma (3). Not only did Heather agree to take time out for lunch with me, she took on my merry band, too.
Lucky us, we didn't have to wander aimlessly around Arles, noses stuck in a guide book wondering where we should go and what we should eat. Starting with a delicious tartine lunch at Cuisine de Comptoir (duck and cantal cheese on pain Poilâne!), Heather showed us the Arles she knows and loves.
First colonised by Greeks by way of Marseille in 6 BC, Arles has a rich history. A roman capital, a religious center in the Middle Ages, inspiring Mistral, Daudet and Bizet, and most famously immortalized by van Gogh, there are many layers to the city - it would have been difficult to uncover them without Heather leading the way.
If you read Lost in Arles, you know that Heather has a very distinct point of view that is rooted in light and shadow, in patina, in the textures and details that give soul to a place.
And that's just what she showed us - a glimpse of the soul of Arles - definitely not something we could read about in a guide book or find on a map.