I will interrupt my “vacation posts” for a brief returning to current life.
The Riviera is finally looking as picture perfect as you’d imagine and I’m loving it. Daily I go through the ritual of putting on my jeans and a hoodie and head to the maisonnette for breakfast, only to realize that stone houses are deceptively cold and I’ve forgotten my sunglasses. I eat and return to quickly do a wardrobe change into shorts, sunglasses and removing my sweatshirt before continuing onto anything. You’d think I’d have learned by now, but alas, old habits die hard.
This weekend Sam, Keoni and Edwin participated in a 60km mountain run. Each taking on a 20 km portion and a mountain to ascend and descend through some rough terrain and boar occupied territory. Being perfectly “French” each participant had to make a homemade dish of some sort to share after the race was over in place of an entry fee so Friday night the three were busy working in the kitchen working on their masterpieces from quiche to raisin cake all the way to an apple tart. A couple months back a local described the race to me as a pack of exhausted dogs with tongues hanging out and saliva everywhere. It’s an image that has stuck and it’s a funny one. Somehow I got invited for the potluck afterward and the opportunity to see the little village of Cipière which is just a few minutes away along the Gorge du Loup. We all ate more than our fair share and then some. Typical.
After everyone way sufficiently full, tired and sun kissed we took to the car on the way back. Sam had been asking me throughout the day of what I still wanted to do before I leave. It’s true – the countdown is sort of on though it’s entirely against my will. After much thought I could think of a few things.
-A proper swim in the sea – none of this “my feet are wet, I’m good now.”
-Visit Ile Ste-Marguerite
-Find a mini Eiffel tower for my key chain (to my surprise Keoni has one – so I guess if a local has it – I don’t have to feel SO bad about this formerly guilty desire)
-Work with Olivier on the Vineyard for a day
-Maybe a little swing by Lyon on the way to Paris before my flight home
They tried to figure out ways to compound them all into one day. I realize my list is long but how could it not be? I’ve had several months to think about how I feel about France and I admit, this coin has two sides. There were days where I couldn’t understand it here, their incredible amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy, the incredibly passionate people which in and of itself is both a blessing and a curse or how things are just so damn manual. But while I have much to scratch my head over I think in the end, I don’t want to leave because this place is just as it was described – all of Europe within one country. Their love of art and of preserving their history is beautiful and if I didn’t say it I’d do a huge disservice to the whole of France and French culture – the food. Already in the last few days I think I queried 4 or 5 people to find out if I could buy pâte brisée or pâte feuilletée to make quiche, tarte tatin or maybe a lemon apple tart but beyond that I know my selection of amazing cheeses and wines will drop dramatically and if I do find them their price will be just as devastating as it is dramatic.
So as we continued to wind along the roads of the gorge I felt the huge sense of hope or maybe it was anticipation that maybe one day this will be home and people will visit me here and I can take them through some of my favorite places, along the winding, narrow roads and eating my favorite dishes. It would bring me much joy to call this place home, though perhaps not atop a mountain next time…
Then Sam insisted we stop the car. As we talked he discovered there was something I hadn’t tasted yet, something along the driveway home. Nèfle. It’s not native to France, it’s not something you readily find in shops but it was so perfectly to my taste. A little sour, really juicy and full of yummy flavor. In English it’s called a Loquat. YUM. If there’s one thing I also still have yet to do it’s to learn what I can forage in this vast land. Things are really starting to grow and so it’s the perfect time to learn!
Promise me you’ll help me find my way back here…