Saturday, July 12, 2008

This begins...07.12.08

We actually got here yesterday but since we were stuck in some kind of time warp (called jet lag) I'm not going to let that limbo time count (except for last night where four of us slept in the same bed because our luggage was in the Burmuda Triangle and that luggage included our two Pack 'N' Plays).

We fell asleep listening to the tumultuous thunder storms that happen nearly every night of the summer caused by the day's heat and mountains' friction. When they had turned into a steady rain, I tried to drink in the sounds and really EXPERIENCE this honeymoon that always happens when we first get to France. I dread coming here because I know what it eventually means--oh, bear with me, you'll understand in time--but then I get here and have these first couple/three days of vacation... the effect of a change of scenery but mixed with old familiar sounds, sights and smells. So, I was doing that, drinking in the sound of the rain and the fact that there is no air conditioning here and that, though there are no screens on the windows and we have to leave them open for circulation, there are no mosquitoes humming in my ear, when I asked myself WHY France does this to me. Why does the uninhibited tapping of the rain on leaves soothe me into thinking France is going to be okay. I decided not to let it fool me. Instead, I tried to picture rainy sounds elsewhere. I imagined myself in my mother's house in Arkansas. It worked. All of a sudden, I was there on my mom's couch, listening to the rain drip against the pines and white oaks of her Ozark forest. Then, I pictured myself in other places, just as rainy and just as sirene: Our old house in PA which also did not have AC, but had a bubbling brook running through the back yard; that banana plantation where we stayed on the island of Saint Lucia, the ocean just a coconut's throw away; even our little home in Charlotte, the ONE TIME we felt secure enough to turn off our security system and listen to the rare rainstorm outside. I realized suddenly that it's not France, after all. It's the rain. The rain is what lulls me into peace. It feels good to know that I can find this peace anywhere I got (except maybe Death Valley... or the Sahara... or, um, even Charlotte...um, okay, so I have to follow the rain to find the peace, but WHATEVAH, I was trying to be poetic!!!).

This morning, we woke up and had breakfast. Not the rushed event I perform every morning at home out of obligation because I know I need to in order to maintain my metabolism and prepare myself for my impending workout at the Y. Gone are my mornings of instant oatmeal. Gone is my aversion to morning coffee. This morning's sustenance included my old French habit of mocha--DARK powdered chocolate turned into mud with a small shot of boxed milk and juiced up with freshly pressed espresso--into which I dipped buttered ficelle (a light bread with a sponge-y inside and crunchy outside) and a croissant.

Bread...
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Ficelle...
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Ficelle en tartine (with butter and jam)...
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Mocha...
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Dip...
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Chomp...
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Afterwards, as we did our morning stuff (um, after my walk around the yard/garden taking pics, LOL), I realized that Sam and I were in the same house but there was silence. Where the heck were the kids? For a minute, my heart stopped and that sudden fear gripped my belly. The kids. Cars. Predators. Snakes. Then, I remembered where we were and was overcome by such a feeling of gratitude that I can't explain. My in-laws live in a tiny village and in a house that is surrounded by grass and high hedges. Our kids were OUTSIDE playing. Outside. Imagine that. Playing in the grass. The only thing that threatened them were the bees and Pepe's wrath if they wandered into the garden and trampled the salades.

Lily running in the grass...
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Lily playing Cou-Cou (Peek-A-Boo) with Pepe...
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Ryan sniffing a flower...
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Ryan in the lavender...
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Lunch (sorry, forgot to take pix) was a small steak and potatoes straight from the garden, followed by a simple green salad (with green onions fresh from the garden). We finished up this morning's bread and nibbled at it with our cheese--an obligatory course in these parts where "swiss" cheese comes from... though, don't call it that to someone who lives in the Haute-Savoie region or it may come to blows--and a finale of local dairy desserts. I follwed it up with a rich bitter coffee and a walk through the garden.

Here are a few pix of the garden/yard fare:

Flowers...
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Bees...
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Foggy morning fiew from the front of the house...
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Other side...
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Raspberries...
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Lettuce..
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Potatoes...
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Peas...
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Tomatoes...
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Garden...
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Fabienne (sister-in-law) with zucchinis...
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Honeysuckle...
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Dinner (and I took pix but since I can't edit them to fit here right now, I'll add them later) was simple and light. It was a Coquille St. Jacques (scallopes dug out of their shell, mixed with some creamy, buttery yumminess, put back in the shell, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked until a little burnt--well, that's how my father in law does it) served with rice and a green salad. I had a creme a la vanille (basically, a runny and VERY vanilla pudding).

Coquilles St. Jacques (This is a bad pic and I didn't realize how bad it was... trust me, this dish tastes better than my photography looks):
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The evening was pretty uneventful as we were all EXHAUSTED still... Sleeeeeeep!

9 comments:

Laurel said...

Breakfast looks scrumptious...

We miss you already!

Love,
Laurel, Daniel & Abby

Kim said...

Wow. I'm so eager to find out why France will disappoint you because I find it so enchanting just from your pictures. And what beautiful pictures they are! What camera are you using? I'll be back daily to catch your latest entry...

xlordashx said...

Joelie! Everything looks so pretty! I hope you can enjoy all the prettiness while you can.

trailfluff said...

i'm interested to see why you'll be dissapointed as well. your photos make me yearn for a european life. :) i always got so homesick for europe when returning to the states from short vacations.

enjoy!!!

Rachel said...

Hey honey! Missing you and hope you are all well!

Erin said...

Joj! I miss you already even though I haven't actually seen you in years! I'm so happy you are doing the blogging thing. I miss Pepe and his garden. Love to you!

Erin said...

Also, LOVE the breakfast pics! Remember when breakfast consisted of a 'Mocher and a Smoker'? And Speculums? Ha!
If there's one thing I REALLY miss about France, it's the food...so keep that coming. I loved your description of the markets, they never really change, do they? Did they have Nems?

Joelie said...

I bet they DID have nems but in the rain, it was hard to tell. I'll have to look for that next time...

Joelie said...

ahhhhh... a mocher and a smoker... I'd give my left nut to be back in those days... when all it took was a mocher and a smoker...