Monday, June 29, 2009

Yurt and Dirt

We went camping last weekend with my parenting group. Well okay, I admit it doesn't count as real camping because we chickened out of tenting and stayed in a yurt instead. We still got devoured by mosquitoes, got to hear our neighbours practicing their audition for the next Viagra ad, and ate burnt hot dogs. And we found kid heaven: Maia and her friends (and yes, Papa too) got to play on the largest pile of sand EVER. It was a fun couple days but I must say I was delighted to come home to my very soft, gigantic bed. My kind of heaven!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ça gronde

I love thunderstorms, and we just had a good one. I knew it was brewing as soon as the house got very quiet, the daylight became weak and blue and when I looked out I was not surprised to see menacing clouds. Then the house shook and the sky rumbled before emptying it's swollen belly of hail stones. And as I stood at the window watching my poor tomato plants getting assaulted, I was a little girl again in the heart of France, thinking: " ça gronde!". It growls. We often had thunderstorms in the Auvergne. Violent ones that would build for days, circling our small valley and causing the villagers to talk of nothing else, speculating as to when the sky would unleash it's fury onto our terracotta roofs.

In school, the children could sense the storm's presence and we were distracted. We rarely had the lights on in our one room school. Our Maitresse preferred the ample natural light that flooded in through the large windows, and seemed rather suspicious of the overhead fluorescent lamps and the electricity they wasted. It was only when we were squinting to read our texts that she would sigh, look to the ceiling in resignation, and appoint a student the privilege of flicking the switch. You can understand that the computer our school was given sat at the back of the class, collecting dust. I don't think she could find the switch. I doubt she looked very hard.

During a storm our Maitresse knew there was no point in trying to teach us the subjonctif. We were as excited as the dogs throughout the village, and had we been allowed, I think we would have barked our heads off too. However, we were allowed to close our books, put the caps back on our fountain pens, and become spectators. Lights were left off, and we watched lightning dance across the hills. The younger children, who were afraid, were allowed to leave their desks and gather by her side, and we would all count together: "One, two, three,'s only four kilometres away! Hope none of the sheep get hit by this one!" And we would talk of the lightning rod at the top of the castle and on the church spire, comforted by the fact that they would protect us from the skies. And they did. Many years later, I learned that my teacher, by then retired, was visiting her daughter during one such storm. The house, not far from the school, was hit in a brilliant flash of light that came down the walls and blew the television and all electrical appliances, leaving them smoking. No one was hurt, but I think it did nothing to quell my Maitresse's distrust of modernity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


First butter lettuce, chard and dill from the garden

We got a dog!!! I've been bugging Lonny for, oh, about 13 years now, and it finally happened! We got in touch with our local Greyhound shelter and went out last Sunday to meet a few dogs, not expecting to find one on our first visit. But we had barely parked the car when I was welcomed by a dog at the gate and it was love at first sight. Crazy but true. He looked at me with his big copper eyes and that was that. And he happened to be cat and kid-friendly. And available. And he was even the first dog they brought to us. We have named him Griffin, and despite two trips to the vet in five days for injured paws due to his extreme clutziness, he is settling in nicely. As you can see for yourself:

First nap in the grass (and obviously hating it)

Not the first time looking silly

Oh and it's HOT today. It is after 7pm and I am still melting as I type this. I don't do well with this heat thing. And it looks like we've skipped Spring altogether and jumped right into Summer. Grumble. But the good news is that we did enjoy the first cherries of the season at the Farmer's market today, as well as our first lettuce, chard, and dill from our very own garden! Delicious. And Maia had fun picking them, in fact she wanted to pick everything in the garden but I somehow managed to convince her not to.

First cherries of the season

And I was so busy being nostalgic in my last post that I didn't mention (well, not properly at least) Kieran's 1st birthday! My baby turned one (sniff sniff) last Tuesday. We celebrated with ice-cream cake (which he approved of), friends and family.

That's our news for the time being, and now I am going to stand in front of the fan and eat ice cubes.

Kieran's 1st birthday!