food, drink & life
in France--and other places. like Holland.
26 October, 2011
We're back in the south of France. We seem to have brought the inclement weather of the north with us, too. Doesn't matter. We are back in France.
While we were busy settling in the city, things kept happening here. For one thing, it kept not raining, for a long, long time. In between tut-tutting the Sahara-like lack of humidity, my friends managed to make me fairly jealous by announcing the laughably warm temperatures. It remained high summer--til the day we arrived.
I really don't mind the rain here, even though it means spending more time indoors. Our capitalist Monopoly skills are being well sharpened, the deck of cards is seeing some serious use, and there is a lot of gossiping catching up to be done with neighbors and friends over fragrant cups of homemade herbal infusions.
The leaves are just now beginning to veer off into the more eye-popping shades. We are monitoring the subtle changes, all the while making little berets for our fingers using the acorn caps scattered everywhere.
Fall break, as you can see, is a very busy time around here.
There is dog-walking to be done, perfect pumpkins to be located (harder than you might imagine) and hot chocolate to be made. If you actually live in the Gard, you know it isn't hot chocolate weather just yet, but the kids don't care. A rich hot chocolate is exactly the kind of beverage you reach for after you've rolled a half dozen times down a slippery, damp hillside, dressed in a plastic garbage bag.
And now we're smelling some of the first smoke of the season, as people are finally able to burn their longstanding piles of brush without the fear of setting off a forest fire. The piles burn slowly, sending up signals most of the day. Sometimes you can barely distinguish between the woodsmoke and coiling mist. Next to our own smoking pile is my vegetable garden, such as it is, is down to a single basil bush, long gone to seed.
We're here, we're happy, even if I missed the harvest for these little crab apples, which is a small pity as I would have loved to have put away some jelly. Tart and sweet belong together. As for the berries: the only ones left are a few straggler raspberries, a startlingly deep,waterlogged red. I also missed the walnuts, once again nimbly harvested by the painfully shy squirrels.
Beyond missing much of the garden harvest, I haven't been cooking all that much lately, either: we've been scoring invitations left and right. The upside, beyond eating great food made by someone else, are all the little discoveries in other people's homes. Just look at the new little quilted house I found at my friend Monique's place when I came by for lunch. She has made, filled and attached it to this old door to keep out the chilly cellar draft.
Warm drinks, bonfires, dogwalks. Nothing mind-alteringly important going on here, simply the small, concurrent shifts that move us from one season to another. We seem to have the space needed to better contemplate those minor details.
Having just arrived over the weekend, I took the usual exit off the highway, we went through the usual toll booth and came up to the usual landscaped roundabout. My ten year oldvsai, with unfeigned, profound affection: "awww...a roundabout!" There are very, very few roundabouts in Amsterdam. In France you can't get away from them.