Yellow Tour de France umbrella on rue Taillefer in Lauzun, France

Gut feelings, travellers’ instincts, and a yellow umbrella

When you travel, you must listen to your gut.

Flower boxes with cat toy in Lauzun, France
Arty flower boxes with cat toy in Lauzun, France.

Or in my case, your backside. Yesterday, after I took an arty photo of winter flowers in the house’s garden, I slipped and fell. Apparently, as light and comfortable as Croc sandals are, they have no grip on wet floor tile.

I fell, and my back made perfect contact with the edge of the stone step. It hurt, but when the hurt subsided, my muscles felt sore — but not injured. I congratulated myself on my strong cyclist’s back, ignored my discomfort, and continued in my plans to go Morris dancing.

I did not listen to my gut when Deb invited me to join in with the warm-up exercises. And I did not listen to my gut when she asked me to hop and skip in the practice.

But when a cord of fibres in my back went ka-blang like a chord of popped guitar strings, I listened. I sat for the rest of the practice and silently prayed I wouldn’t need to avail of France’s famous public health system, warmly endorsed by film-maker Michael Moore in his documentary Sicko.

This morning a neighbour slipped me several days’ worth of prescription muscle relaxants. I went home, made lunch, swallowed 400 mg of relaxation, and took a photo of a pretty yellow Tour de France umbrella at my front door.

I glanced through the grocery flyers and made note that duck meat, canard, is a front-page item here in France. I wondered if I might actually attempt cooking with duck.

Front page of Leader Price flyer with various cuts of duck meat in France.
Front page of a Leader Price flyer with various cuts of duck meat: filets, aiguillettes, magrets, and cuisses.

In Vancouver where I live, a bundle of kale, a bunch of broccoli, and maybe a skinless chicken breast would be front page news in the flyer world.

Sue and Ian—the owners of the house and cat I am tending—are also listening to their gut. When I read their latest travel dispatch, Sue expressed some doubts about the wisdom of road-tripping in Morocco given the current political situation. They have decided to explore closer to home in Spain and Portugal.

Travellers agree that the best tool we can pack is intuition. It weighs nothing and keeps us safe.

And so I’ve listened to my gut and resigned myself to a relaxed, tucked-in day next to the stove when I’d much rather be pedalling past farmers’ fields on a mild, misty winter’s day…

Grey soil with rows of green shoots, mist n background.
Brussel sprouts winter field north of Lauzun.




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Writer, rider, traveller.

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