Harper Cowan

28th February 2015 

A long day of trains, buses, and planes, and we touched down in Carcassone, France, in the middle of a rather unusual snowstorm. We were picked up by John, a wide eyed Irishman in a cozy handmade sweater, and loaded in to a 4×4. We whizzed around supermarches, counting our pennies and guessing at what we might need for a week up the mountain with no shops. It was dark by the time we got to La Muse.


We are in a little village called Labastide-Esparbairenque, nestled in to the side of a mountain. Sloping terraced gardens and old cracked stone walls overflowing with soft mosses and Venus’ navel. The days are long and purposeful, fresh and bright and happily shared. We fill glass bottles with drinking water, and barefoot walk uphill avoiding chestnut shells. From the top, you can see the Pyrenees.


Venus’ Navel (Umbilicus rupestris)


In exchange for our stay here, we work in the house next door, hammering plaster off of ancient walls with a pickaxe. It has been good to find ourselves so strong. To use so much energy, feel new muscles ache, and sleep deep grateful slumbers. We’ve embraced our boiler suits and fought our ways through mental resistance. And John, next to us, muttering the whole time “..you’ve gotta laugh..” It is a huge job and he and Bernard, a beautiful and stoic Frenchman with a long braided ponytail down his back and two gypsy hoop earrings, have taken it on with such grace and dignity. They both must be absolutely exhausted and they never mutter an unkind word, and never begrudge us our too-long tea breaks, or the way we sometimes keep our iPods on repeat. At the end of it, John will have a beautiful home for his gorgeous family. Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid!IMG_2524IMG_2878

On the days we’re not smashing walls, or doing housework, we’re working on editing our film which has been a challenge and a delight simultaneously –mostly delight. It’s so nice to get to see and hear our old new-friends, be transfixed again by their wise words and sigh watching their beautiful faces and songs dance across our screens.

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It’s been a very quiet month, with very few distractions – the loudest sound is the wind blowing. We take sunset hikes and read our books before bed, ballet dance in hallways, eat well. It’s been peaceful and full of joy and gratitude and strength. I’m so grateful for my beautiful friend Jess, curating and sharing these days and nights, these sunsets and oranges with me. I feel too lucky. So, so blessed, to have a friend to sit so quietly beside. One night when it was almost too quiet we hiked to the top with a Mexican blanket and watched the sky fade from pale tangerine to bright blue to black. We watched the first star come out, and Jupiter, and then there were seven stars, and then there were hundreds.

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Jess @ La Muse

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On Chinese New Year we meditated and set our intentions for the year of the Wood Sheep. We set fire to the things we are letting go. I felt strong and peaceful in my body, set intentions for a year of trust and radiant love, growing stronger, and the color light blue.

IMG_2261 IMG_2311This month has been so, so so gorgeous in many ways. So many THANK YOUs to John & Kerry for hosting Anima Rising here, and to all the other kind souls we’ve met in Labastide Esparbairenque. Too wonderful for words!

❤ ❤ ❤


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