Last summer when traveling between France & Spain we passed through many of the small towns & resting stops of the Camino de Santiago. One of the most important Christian pilgrimages of the Middle Ages, the Cramino continues to draw modern day pilgrims & hikers to the shrine of St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Although there are many different routs leading to the eventual destination the most popular & most frequently traveled is the French Way.
The beautiful night sky which pointed the direction in Medieval times gave the pilgrimage its nickname "Voie Lactée" or Milky Way in French. Today it is known simply as "The Way".
Originally the pilgrims came mostly from Franch but now thousands of people come from all over the world to make the trek.
The symbol of the journey is the scallop shell & each hiker displays one to identify them as an official pilgrim.
Ancient as well as modern depictions of scallop shells serve as guides along the rout.
The Way takes one through stunning landscapes, tiny medieval villages, beautiful vineyards, vast open spaces, tranquil waterways, peaceful rural hills & rugged mountains. It is a long & difficult journey so it is best to be well prepared.
But if you find you do not have all the right gear, one can find shops in the larger towns & cities that provide necessities for the hike.
Most travel by foot but bikes have also become a popular method of travel. As you can possibly feel from the photo below there is a true sense of camaraderie on The Way & many friendships are forged, as in the case of this Italian gentleman & young Dutch couple that I encountered.
Seeing this was very close to my heart because our son, Jack, hiked the Camino a number of years ago & it has remained a fascination for me.
Below is Jack's photo of his last ascent to Santiago de Compostela on the hill. You can see other photos from my son's trek here.
So if you are Dreaming of France & you are up for the hike of a lifetime maybe you should consider le Camino de Santiago.
Yes, "pick your own daffodils" was a new experience for me. I knew of farms that invited costumers to "pick your own apples" or "pick your own strawberries" but daffodils was a first for me. And what a delight it was!
UPickDaffodils is a family run farm near the sweet little town of Bluffton SC.
Owners Diane & Chuck Merrick say the beautiful yellow fields include a number of the 50 different varieties of daffodils that are commonly found in the Low Country. Originally sold as stock for florists the fields were planted more than 40 years ago.
But when that market dried up for them some 20 years later, the idea for UPIckDaffodils was born & has been delighting locals ever since.
As you can imagine this whole operation like any farming venture is entirely dependent on the weather & on mother nature. Last Sunday was a perfect warm sunny day for a little side trip to celebrate the coming of spring here in South Carolina. And what better way to do that than to pick a bouquet of fresh faced daffodils.
It is hard to say what was more enjoyable, the sheer pleasure of wandering in those golden fields with the sun on my face or watching the joy of all the other participants as they gathered their bouquets.
Young or old, everyone left happy & with a lovely reminder of the day, a beautiful bunch of yellow blooms to take home.
My bouquet made me smile all week long & also inspired a little painting.
I confess to being remiss in posting photos from Charleston this winter. The month of February was for the most part rainy & chilly. But of course, it was nothing in comparison to the snow my family & friends were enduring in Boston. Below ismy daughter shoveling her Boston driveway.
On those rare but glorious winter days here in Charleston, when the sun shines & the temperatures rise, I did take photos. But I felt down right guilty about sharing them. In fact, I learned the hard way what hard-pressed northerners felt about beach pictures in February, when I emailed a few sunny shots to my children. What I received in response was an almost angry reply . They were not amused.
Now that March is here, however, I feel a little safer in saying that spring is just around the corner. It does seem that when the days are pretty here, especially on the weekends, everyone gravitates to the beach. Although it is still too cold to swim it is a great place to take a long walk.
And surfers are out in their wetsuits hoping to catch a wave or two.
Or what could be nicer than to take in the sun on a beach front porch.
Having recently relocated to Charleston SC, it seems that I am now all over the map. I have left my home & studio in Boston for warmer climates but will continue to visit often. Summers are always spent in a tiny village in the southwest of France. So I am indeed between here & there. I am happy to have you follow along.