by Ariane ~ March 26, 2009
It was a years’ long dream, yet a frightening one. Finally I took a deep breath, asked the mayor and the priest for permission. To my own surprise I was given the keys.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland. The keys didn’t look odd nor old. They were absolutely normal. But they opened a very special realm.
In Vernon’s church, a narrow door opens onto a spiral staircase that leads to the pipe organ. I knew that if you go on climbing you will reach the turrets and have an amazing view over the town.
I shut the medieval door behind me and started walking up the stairs. There was hardly enough space for one person, but there wasn’t any chance I would meet somebody else coming down.
It was a very strange feeling to be there alone. These backstage parts of the big church seldom have visitors. They look like their makers have just left them. You can almost feel the presence of the stone carvers and masons of the 15th century in the perfectly arranged steps and wall stones. Was I welcome with my cameras?
My heart was beating, but no time to hesitate. I had reached a narrow door. One of the keys opened it, and I was on the northern terrace in front of the House of Good Old Times, the tourist office.
The church and the half-timbered house were so close that they seemed to be speaking. I was afraid to slip on the smooth stones. I carefully closed the door and went on, higher and higher.
Finally I reached the top of the turret and had access to a small balcony. It is like being at the top of the big Wheel. You know you are safe, but you don’t feel you are. The view over Vernon was stunning. Town hall, houses, hills on the background, and over this a very norman sky full of lovely clouds. The pigeons looked at me with astonishment.
The strangest up there is to notice that so many stones are carved, adornated, although nobody can see them. The stone carvers of the Middle ages worked for the sight of God.
It was easier though slightly giddy to go down the spinning staircase. I felt relieved to reach the ground floor, but also sad to close the narrow door of the pipe-organ behind me, and even sader to have to turn back the magic keys.