“The Horse Bell”, 4 x 6″, oil pastel, Erika Connor 2020

Ribes de Freser, March 2020

I stayed for a week in a tiny village in the Pyrenees Mountains before my flight home. Little did I know that the world would be changed irreparably. I went for a last hike towards the white peaks of  Vall de Nuria. The horse bells rang through the valley like a summons. The land was so beautiful and haunting. I felt a premonition, something was coming. I passed a stone marker and came over a flowing creek across a mossy bridge and entered the tiny village of Queralbs. I had come 18 kilometres. There, the Portico of the Romanesque church mesmerized me with its carvings, symbols of lost eras and sagas: ferns, birds of prey, figures carrying sheep, a figure carrying two beasts in his arms, with wings sprouting from his mouth. What did it mean? I walked down the cobbled lanes, past stone houses with wooden shutters, and wondered what it would be like to live in this place of light above the world. I passed through to the other side, following a path that led higher and higher into the rocks, above the tracks of the rack train, the cremallera that wound its way another 10 kilometres or so to the ski hills. I walked on snow. I reached a plain of broken rock on a steep slope and there were the peaks, seemingly so close. I could feel the cold of the snow, the wind. I saw the fissures in the blue rock faces. There was some invisible line that stopped me from moving forward. I felt fear but I did not know why. I felt like time had stopped. The sun was glinting off the peaks, touching them, sinking behind them. I turned back. Then I saw the cloud. It was small and round, the only cloud in the sky. It looked somewhat like a flying saucer. It seemed to have come from another world. I thought maybe it was a messenger. I took a picture, the last one.