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The Land

Mass at Mas Saint-Jean

June 26 is the name day of Saint Jean to which the tiny chapel in Mas St. Jean is dedicated. Every year, once a year, on Saint Jean’s day, the chapel is opened up, dusted off, and a mass is held (outside since the congregation has outgrown the chapel’s size) under the great Tilleul tree which stretches over the tiny tiled roof. I’m probably not the most devout Catholic, but I had never seen the inside of the little chapel, and I had a few sins to wash off my hands anyway- so one warm Sunday in the end of June, I headed down the dirt path through the woods to Mas St. Jean to attend my first mass in a few years. This is everything church should be! Warm weather, fresh air, SUNSHINE, friendly greetings, and of course, the obligatory goûter afterwards…

Cerises Chez Jaques

Basket of Cherries

June is Cherry month in La Creuse… for a few precious weeks the trees throughout the countryside are filled with beautiful pink blossoms. Then, almost all at once the cherries are ripe- and then are gone. For a few days in early June we eat all the cherries we can stand- one’s yearly cherry ration in the matter of a few hours! Whatever is not eaten, packed into delicious Clafoutis, or sterilized into jars, will either rot or be taken by the birds if it’s not gathered fast enough… So Jaques called one day asking if I could come by that very afternoon for Cherry Picking- it was either now or never since the birds were already getting full! If we waited even a day longer they would be gone… So, I cancelled my plans for that afternoon and we headed to Eguzon gather all the cherries we could. (more…)

Le Poil et la Plume

Inspiration of the Day:

A friend, inspired by my new feathered companions, recently loaned me a book written by Annie Dupery- a Parisian actress relocated to la Creuse… In Le Poil et la Plume she describes eloquently her reasons for relocating to this ‘forgotten’ part of the country, and her endeavors raising both chickens and cats (Fur and Feathers) in her rural garden… The opening text of her book puts it perfectly, (in words better than I can conjure) so I have left them in the original French (rough English translation follows). (more…)

Les Ternes (Pionnat): Or, five MORE reasons I love spring in the Creuse (edit)

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Cloudy Skies Over Castles

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Spring in Les Verrines…

It’s definitely spring! In La Creuse, that usually means a lot of gray, rainy days… But there’s a good bit of sunshine mixed in and when the sun shines, even for a brief moment, it’s amazing. The color of green everywhere is intense, some kind of shade of green which can’t really be described or captured in pixels… You will just have to come see for yourself.

First Things First

Lena, Ready for Action

Although this post is titled ‘First Things First’ it’s important to note that we had already done quite a lot of work to make it to this point! This was already our third trip to the ‘new’ house- twice last year, just CLEANING, killing the ivy growing up the walls, cutting down the mess of vines and brambles in the yard. This time around we had already been back for over a month- Once again cutting down all the mess that had grown up while we were gone, making our weekly trips to the Déchèterie with loads of trash, stripping the old yellow wallpaper from the walls and doing drywall, and various other projects.

But- First things first, we needed a toilet! We also needed a shower… So I set about to build a Dry Composting Toilet system and an outdoor solar shower. Of course, the ol’ bucket system just wouldn’t cut it. I wanted something that would not only be functional, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective, but also something that would look nice and pass even the most discriminating of tastes. I broke out the woodworking kit and got to work building a toilet that one might even describe as… beautiful? (more…)

Postcard from Le Mas St. Jean

In Front of La Chapelle du Mont St. Jean with the Renault

July Postcards

Sunflowers in Creuse

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Spring in La Creuse

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One Year in Le Vignaud

Intimacy with another country is ripened by pleasures but also by loneliness and error. It is nurtured through long wet winters as well as radiant days.

–Shirley Hazzard, Italian Hours

Le Vignaud, 2 November 2008

Le Vignaud, 2 November 2008

It’s been quite a while since I have had the time to write or share any photos on the website- things have been busy over the past few months. Needless to say, I have plenty of stories and photos to share! I should have regular internet access coming soon, so expect to have some new updates on the way…

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One year has passed since I drove from Germany in a rickety old Renault truck, bound for my tiny village in France. It has been a wonderful ride- I have made life-long friends, followed a longstanding dream, overcome many obstacles, and fallen to others. But through all the cold, the rain, the sunshine, the good food, the up and the downs, I wouldn’t trade a day of the last year for anything else.

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