Saturday, October 2, 2010
In the cactus gardens of Eze
It's strange to say but I only realize it when I look back at the photos of Eze, with its manicured ancientness, Eze under pretty, drifting clouds tumbled like the mountain ridges the town rises from, a dizzy eyrie over the azure calmness of the Mediterranean.
Nic was more fashionable than me, even if her dress came from one of the lower end boutiques in Nice. In contrast I cringe at my combo of washed out off-white shirt and shorts, grey socks and money belt with a Canadian maple leaf on it that led hawkers in the medinas of Tunisia to yell: "Mister Canada," as I walked by.
Still we were still young and in the early stages of love that made every trip out together a thrilling adventure. We stayed in a tent and ended up sleeping one night in a Renault, but in those days we didn't care. And we were also in paradise having driven up to Eze from the racetrack streets and high rises of Monte Carlo.
So we flitted from Menton to Eze and Roquebrune across the corniches that claimed the life of Grace Kelly. We drank Pastis in Aix and red wine in Burgundy. These were the days before we discovered the charms of Wal-Mart.
Eze is an ancient fortified hill village of pleasant sunlit squares, antique shops and blind alleys that lead to stunning blue glimpses of the Mediterranean. It captivated Walt Disney enough to spend a considerable amount of time here. There are old graves on a grassy cliff in a mellow churchyard and Eze is topped by a beautiful cactus garden, the Jardin Botanique d'Eze.
It's strange when I look back on a perfect day that I also remember the rotten and distracting apples that hang in every Eden, my impatience as I struggled to find a parking spot, my concern at the cost of a beer. In the tapestry of life that becomes increasingly threadbare, these are such tiny blemishes.
So when I look back at the photos I think we didn't look like film stars but we didn't look too bad. Nobody threw us off the beach at Cannes, even if the only place we cold afford to eat in Monte Carlo was McDonalds where the discerning local seagulls decided to unload their derision on us.
Of course every photograph is a snapshot in time. Our grandparents posed on the beaches of Scarborough or Daytona and managed to look like Bogart and Bacall, in a certain light, with the amusement arcade conveniently out of focus.
And one day our great grandkids might find this photo and look at us in Eze and wonder where the cactus garden was and exactly who the people in the picture were.