Friday 28 September 2012

Snippets from Life in France - des jardins potagers

Neighbours' potager wall
Life in our corner of France has a gentle rhythm that is aligned to the seasons.  Summer temperatures in the high 20's to mid 30's (celsius) with intermittent heavy rains, (clearing the air of its gathering humidity),  ensure bountiful yields from des jardins potagers, if one keeps an eye on the bugs, mildew and enormous mustard brown slugs - so strong that they can upend a flower pot.

Frequently I would see the tip of an inverted "v" over the high old stone fenced vegetable plot on the corner of the ruelle as I rocketed down the hill on my bike before turning right to My French Folly. It would be the derriere of either Sylvie or Christian who were bent over, tending their potager. Often I would find  produce from their patch of earth on the stone seat beside the back door - tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers and haricot vert (eaten al dente after being tossed in unsalted butter and garlic). Wonderful. My meagre contribution to the community table was fresh herbs - basil, parsley, chives & thyme - which grew prolifically beside the front door after being planted within a few days of our arrival at our house.

Stone seat on the terrace beside the back door.
During the first week of Autumn, a daily vision would be the neighbours sitting in the afternoon sun with a huge sack of dried beans (pods and seeds) at their feet and a bowl in their laps which would catch les harricots blancs as they were released from their casings. These white beans were then tipped into a big bucket from which they would be divided, stored and consumed in the coming seasons. I felt privaliged to be able to pull up a chair and join in this ritual and the ensuing family chatter. During this activity  I would find myself taking stock of my surroundings as we sat in the gentle autumn sun overlooking the village and the verdant green rolling hills and surrounding forests, hearing the now familiar  bird calls and smelling the scent of fresh earth.
These lovely old shutters keep the hot sun out of the kitchen.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Back from the Depths of France.

Life inevitably doesn’t go to plan. I thought I would be spending the last 3 months in France, writing, photographing, occasionally working on My French Folly with the odd foray into other parts of the country and Europe, but it wasn’t to be. However, I am now quite conversant with French building regulations, the legal system and hospitals! 
The geography of our French village makes telecommunications unreliable. No blogging, few phone calls and no television. I have now come to appreciate life without constantly being plugged into the internet, news and current affairs.
After Mr R returned to Australia I didn’t have a car (a long story). There is no regular public transport in our village except for a très cher taxi service, which I tried once: 50 euros to go 12 km down a country road. Consequently I had to plan my time and purchases very carefully - a habit I have lost over the years with extended trading hours and a car on hand, in Melbourne!
Although my faith in the kindness of others has been intermittently jarred during the last 5 years, while in France it was gradually restored - despite the dishonesty and unprofessional behaviour of My Man on the Ground.  In a nutshell, I’ve had a great adventure – one of discovery and personal growth, (yes it can still happen at my age). The simple life has great benefits. I can’t wait to return to My French Folly.
P.S. I am still jet lagged so it will take me a while to catch up with those of you who thoughtfully contacted me while I was in France.