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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cheese Please

"How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 kinds of cheese?" DeGaulle once asked. This says as much about French cheese as it does about France.
The cheese man at the open air market in Valence d'Agen yesterday was quite generous with samples. He had only a small selection--maybe 6 or 7 varieties of cheese produced in the Pyrenees which is about a 2-hour drive from here. I selected a hard cheese--a little sharp, good for an omelette or grated onto a salad. But after he told me he liked my hat and that I was beautiful and that he'd like my phone number, I got a little discombobulated and forgot to ask him the name of the cheese.
I told him I had only a USA number for my Blackberry, and then he asked me to stop back and see him when I finished my shopping.
I didn't.
But for the next couple of hours as I strolled past the fish, and the couscous, and the bread, the dishes, the clothes, and jewelry and yes, even the lingerie, I noticed that all of the couples I saw seemed to be well-matched in age. Maybe the French appreciate une femme d'un certain age.
Maybe cheese merchants, who know that the aging process enhances the cheese, are especially appreciative of older women.

Monday, September 28, 2009

For the Birds

I can't afford to do any real shopping on this trip to France, but yesterday I did some window shopping--or what the French call lecher les vitrines (the literal translation is licking the windows.) That's a pretty good description of how much I liked this bedding I saw. Mind you, I have a fabulous hand sewn quilt made for me by my mother and I've had it on my bed for about 15 years and still love it. But. There's just something about those birds. I have a thing for birds right now. I'm enjoying a book ( written in English) called The Poets Guide to the Birds and there are lots of birds here where I'm living here in France--pigeons and ravens and magpies and little songbirds who I don't quite recognize. Not to mention the chickens and roosters. I live between two roosters--handsome fellows who crow whenever they seem to feel like it. And at night, if I sit out on the patio after everyone has gone to bed, I hear owls calling to one another. But they sound a little different from the owls I've heard in the USA. There's a sort of vibrato in their calls--as if they are rolling their vowels the way French speakers roll their "Rs."
If I bought that comforter I saw in the window, I'd have to hang it out on the clothesline on laundry day.We have no clothes dryer here at Moulin a Nef.
I thought I would only pretend to like this process, but I love the way my sheets smell after a day in the sun. It would be fun to see that gorgeous comforter dancing in the breeze. Maybe all the real birds would soar in for a closer look.

Sunday in the Country

We drove into the province called Le Lot yesterday and saw another of France's most beautiful villages--St. Cirq Lapopie.
But it was the apple orchards in the countryside that captured my imagination. The rows of trees have a framework of wooden poles over them from which are hung vast sheets of white netting that can be used to cover the trees. But when the netting is pulled back, it's gathered and anchored to the poles at the ends of the rows. It looks like grand draperies made of white tulle--like the apple trees are having a wedding.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

C'est La Vie

I like to say that I'm currently living in France. I'm here for a month, thanks to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. This first week has already concluded, and so far I've awakened every morning in my charming room in an old stone house thinking, I'm living in France! It's a bit of a fantasy because it's pretty unlikely that I'll continue to live here, but for now I do live in Auvillar which has the distinction of being one of the 100 most beautiful villages in France.


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