Europe N to S: Turquoise (2/4/17)

Today’s Miles: 23.4
Total Miles: 4,117.9

Vendargues, France – February 4, 2017




I don’t notice the woman at first. I am walking down a street and her words blend into the background. Why would anyone be talking to me? I look up and see her waiving behind a wrought iron fence.


She is talking to me. Her turquoise head scarf is brilliant against the grey of the day. She holds up a white bag and pull a small loaf of bread from inside.

“Monsieur,” she says. “For you.”

I look at her and take a few confused steps to the fence. She lifts the bag over the top and I reach up to take it. Inside, I see a dozen sticks of bread, green olives baked into the dough.

She smiles and I smile back. Her face is as bright as the turquoise fabric wrapped around it, glowing in the grey of the day. Before I can say anything more than thank you, she turns and disappears, leaving me to wonder about it all.

What just happened? Why? I stand confused for a few moments, then slip off my pack to stash the bag away. It doesn’t matter. It just is. 

I eat the bread throughout the day, a piece here and there as grey clouds roll overhead, as the sky breaks and solidifies again, as mud sticks to my boots. Every time I pull another piece out and taste the olives, I think if her smile, the turquoise fabric of her hijab, the kindness of a stranger, and how the dark sky is not as dark as it looks.


9 thoughts on “Europe N to S: Turquoise (2/4/17)

  1. Another wonderful lesson of not needing to look up to see angels. They are often in front of you if you look. And I hear that the calling card for many angels is simply a smile.

  2. Just noticed you went over 4,000 miles! That is more than the combined Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trail mileage.

  3. Beautiful! I think you could teach the US media an important lesson or two – that there is beauty everywhere, even amongst pain. Maybe stories of kindness can sell too alongside stories of struggle.

  4. Well, you did it again! I am sitting here with tears welling up in my eyes. You sure can write a good short story! The “hijab” at the end was a zinger…makes for multiple layers. Makes one wonder what her personal experience has been of being hungry, a stranger in a foreign country, still connected to those things that matter.

    So now we know that angels also wear hijabs…

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