The day’s route meandered through small villages and along corn fields. At one hamlet on the east side of L’Adour River, not far from Vielle-Adour, a woman tending her roses suggested I ask a neighbor two houses over to open the church for me. The guardian of the church seemed a bit surprised. Was I the first pilgrim-tourist to come this way on foot? She fetched a classic iron key the size of a man’s shoe from a hook in the hallway of the family farmhouse.
We walked a few meters to the old church. A wooden Baptismal with a stone basin caught my eye. The freestanding cabinet was circular with simple carving, sealed with its own small key. Most of the building was in decay, with peeling paint and warped marquetry. It was cracking apart, like many rural churches with no congregations. I followed her back to the farm and chatted briefly. The husband had come in from the barn by then. He was lean and bright eyed as all the farmers I met in the region. They work every day and eat exceptionally well.
Small aircraft droned overhead occasionally, like the flyover sight-seers in the Grand Canyon. Golden light in the late afternoon mandated that I stop to paint a bucolic scene — cornfields after harvest with stalks jutting at angles from the russet brown earth. A little animal came close while I painted. A field cat or a wild creature cat-sized crept out of the broken rows of corn stalks surprised by the silent human sitting on the dirt.