Ah, Spring! It’s that magical season that reminds us that what was closed and silent begins to open, open, open.

Immediately in front of us is the most incredible display of hope and faith in each new day. The Tuscan spring of this year arrives in all its splendor. Millions. No, billions of tiny tentative forms peek from beneath hardened bark, choosing to go one more round, to continue Life’s cycle, to shake off the blanket of winter. Shades of gray transform into delicate green, pink and yellow buds, right before our eyes. Blossoms. Flowers. And we anticipate the unfurling of leaves for shade in the months to come.

We are moved by the intensity of nature’s confident and bold statement. Choose life! Choose growth! Choose transformation! (more…)

After he returned from 3 weeks in Lyon, France, Emerson offered me his journal to read. As I read, I wondered about the whys of his ways. He chatted with Marina on the first day. He struck up a conversation with Rosina and Stephan at dinner. He accompanied Romain to his workshop. Talked with Sid and Jean Pierre in the park—just to name a few local folks. Why? After walking all over the city, why did he continue going back to Place Sathonay, rather than other compelling spots? (more…)

Our friend Sergio has a dream tucked beneath layers of rust in a salvage yard.

Whenever we need an old unique piece made of iron, we go to see Sergio. He’s been tirelessly collecting everything iron for decades now, and his collection is indeed impressive. He has meticulously gathered everything from enormous iron gates from the largest villas in Tuscany, to the miscellaneous small parts to make them work. He has old statues, machines, beds and swords. You name it. He has it. (more…)

“St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come down
Something is lost and can’t be found”

We have a great friend, Zia. We’ve worked with her for years on various projects, and whenever we needed something that seemed to be lost, she recited this little prayer to Saint Anthony. Miraculously, it always seemed to work. Once, in fact, she located something missing in our own home because Saint Anthony told her it was on a specific shelf in the dining room cabinet. I thought it was an unlikely place, but Em encourage me to immediately go home to check it out anyway—and there it was, just like Zia said. Or just like Saint Anthony said. That experience made us believers, even though we’ve rarely used the prayer since . . . except for one particular day in France! (more…)

One empty bench beckoned us from across the park. We had been hiking a bit, so we were ready to sit down and relax for a few minutes. All the other benches were occupied, so we felt lucky to find the last available seat in the “house.”

As we approached the bench, Em said, “Oh, there’s the reason this one’s empty!” He was referring to the paint that had been drizzled across the wood slats. But, to me it looked like dried, glossy enamel, which can often give the appearance of being fresh. So I took my right index finger and lightly touched the paint. “Argh! It is wet paint!!” I declared. I then took a tissue from my pocket and wiped my finger. To my surprise, the wetness came off, but the violet color remained. My finger was semi-permanently dyed. I went into a nearby restroom to wash my hands. Nothing phased the stain. I examined more closely. My finger made it look as though I’d recently voted! I showed Em. And suddenly, I felt pleased with my dyed finger. (more…)

12:21 pm Wednesday—message through WordPress from Carolina (previously unknown to us) in Capetown South Africa: My Mum lives in Tuscany and I received a letter from her where she wrote about Monteloro and the only restaurant of the village. I googled it up and I came across your blog . . . Do you know by the way, Trattoria La Casa del Prosciutto (House of Ham), in Ponte a Vicchio? (more…)

On a brisk, cool Saturday morning in September, we set out on our trek through the French countryside. From Rue de Saint Jacques in the town of Le Puy-en-Velay to Conques, toward Toulouse, the trail known as the GR 65, wends its way through some of the prettiest French villages in the country. Within minutes, we were on the pilgrims’ footpath, leading to Santiago, Spain, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. But we weren’t going that far . . . not even close . . . not this time. Our plan was to cover only a little over 200 kilometers (125 miles) in 10 days. Next year, perhaps we’ll walk another section. We’ll see. Our conclusion is that those medieval pilgrims were some pretty tough cookies indeed! (more…)

We decided to take a big walk!

Sometimes it’s helpful to symbolize life’s journey by creating a walk that challenges us with everyday trials, on our way to a special destination. It’s even more powerful when that path is one that’s served as The Way for millions of pilgrims over centuries of soulful walking.

The Way of Saint James is one of the most famous pilgrimages in the history of the world, and is made up of countless paths throughout Europe, all converging at Cape Finisterre, at the western coast of Spain. Finisterre means “land’s end,” and was definitely thought of in ancient times as the “end of the world.” What better destination to symbolize life’s pilgrimage? (more…)

At the visitor’s center in the small French town of Saint-Vallier-sur-Rhône, we asked the director, our new British friend Hillary what to do. We had taken the train from Lyon earlier that morning, with the intention of continuing by bus to the tiny burg of Hauterives, to visit Ferdinand Cheval‘s “Ideal Palace.” That was the plan . . . until we found out that the buses were really few and far between. The next bus would be along in 4 hours. A taxi was a logical second choice, but they’re hard to come by, and would be on the super high side of pricey. We were determined to see the Palace—hence our dilemma. (more…)