This is what happiness looks like.
When I visited Aix-en-Provence two summers ago, my sister suggested we go to the L’Occitan factory, 30 minutes outside of the city. My mom, brother, little sister, and I, all packed in tightly to our car like sardines. We hopped on the freeway after paying a hefty toll and made it to the factory just in time for our 11 o’clock tour. It was pretty interesting, but my sister enjoyed it more than all of us put together. I liked seeing her so excited much more than I liked the tour.
I’ve always wanted to see the lavender fields of France, so we got a recommendation for a restaurant in a little town an hour away and set off around 12.30.
On the way there, we stopped to see the lavender fields; you couldn’t miss them. We pulled our van off the narrow country rode and onto a little dirt patch on the side of the road. The first thing that hit you was the perfume of it all. The breeze carried the sweetest air I’ve ever known, from acres of plump rows of lavender.
Over a little hill, we came up a valley of sunflowers, quite literally smiling at us (see below.) What I liked most about sunflower field, however, was that after we left, became nothing more or less than a beautiful, yellow blur, like a ray of sunlight against the Earth.
Our journey brought us to an incredible crystal lake. Bigger than our favorite Lake Shasta in Northern California, and picturesque like Faaker See in the Austrian Alps. We had lunch at a small Italian restaurant that overlooked a small cove and watched people sail by on boats, kayaks, and paddleboards.
After a satisfying meal of pizza and pasta, my family and I wandered around the town before heading back to the car. We were ready to drive through the hills and fields to check out a winery that my mom wanted to visit.
What we found was one of the most beautiful sights of my life. We came up upon yet another sunflower field, much grander than the first, and immediately pulled over. Before us was a massive valley, half of it filled with eight-foot tall sunflowers and the other half with half-mile long rows of blooming lavender of the deepest shade. A large stone house lay nestled in a corner nearby. The aroma was intoxicating, but the sheer beauty of the scene was enough to shake me to my core.
My sister and I walked through the rows of flowers, some of which truly towered over us. We saw happy little bees pollinating the flowers and found a smiley face carved into a sunflower and other teensy flowers breaking through. Walking down the rows, watching my sister laugh and smiling at my mom, I thought, “this is what happiness feels like.”