Susan and I were watching Rick Steves “France’s Loire: Valley of a Thousand Chateaux.”
It was a fascinating show illustrating both the beauty and opulence of the castles. Some of the castles facts are staggering:
- The biggest château in the region, Chambord, is huge — six times the size of your average Loire palace, more like a city than a château. It’s surrounded by Europe’s largest enclosed forest park, a lush game preserve teeming with wild deer and boar. It began as a simple hunting lodge for bored blue bloods. But starting in 1518, François I — with the help of 1,800 workmen over 15 years — made a few modest additions to create his “weekend retreat.”
- Only 80 of Chambord’s 440 high-ceilinged rooms are open to the public — and that’s plenty. To see what happens when you put 365 fireplaces in your house, climb up to the rooftop and wander through a forest of chimney spires.
- When the Revolution hit, in 1789, many palaces were trashed — some were even burned to the ground. But many survived. Some were lucky. Some had fast-talking owners with friends in high places. And others, like Cheverny, had a reputation for being good to their workers. And back then, a big part of château life included hunting — and still does. The marquis hunts twice a week in season. Feeding time for his hounds is 5:00 daily. The hounds — half English foxhound and half French Poitou — get worked up knowing red meat is on the way. The master moves them out, and spreads out the feast. The excitement is palpable. The trainer, who knows each of the 70 dogs by name, opens the gate and maintains discipline as the dogs gather at the concrete table. It’s an exercise in canine control. Finally, he gives the signal…and its chow time.
Susan asked me if I ever thought of living during another time as we watched the show. And I answered “I don’t think I have ever dreamed about living during another time. I am happy here and now.”
“But what about doing something in another time, Bruce?”
“Oh,” I said. “I think I would have enjoyed being an explorer, an adventurer. Margo Polo. Magellan. Francis Drake. Daniel Boone. Lewis and Clarke. Howard Carter. Jacque Cousteau. And if I was a woman: Isabella Bird, Sacagawea, Amelia Earhart, Nellie Bly, Beryl Markham. To name just a few, Susan.”
As I thought about adventure and exploration, I came to the conclusion:
“I am an explorer. I am an adventurer.”
On every hike I am always on an adventure. Here at Mt, Evans outside of Denver, Colorado:
When I work in my garden, I am always an explorer. Here, look at the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly I found in my garden:
If you listen you can hear the hummingbird’s wings as it hovers over a zinnia in my garden:
Look at the spider web I found in the park down the street from where we live:
Helen Keller said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
I choose adventure!