It’s the late afternoon, and my partner Jason and I are running in circles in the tower of Le Château d’Ussé. We’re desperately trying to see it all before our tour bus pulls away without us. Golden French light flashes through the slit embrasures making it feel like we’re inside a slide projector. Each window reveals glimpses of the Loire River Valley. Out one, we see still-blossoming fields of lavender blanket the ground and the wind blows the purple flora as if it’s the fur of an animal. I shout Jason’s name as he disappears around a corner. Another window frames a lazy creek alongside French manicured gardens. Twisting and turning, I see Jason’s hand glide against the cool white bricks. Out another, a man is carrying a barrel of wine while his Briard companion follows him into the wine caves. At the end of the corridor, I find Jason leaning against a heavy wooden door.