Over the years that I have been coming to La Creuse and in particular over the past few years that I have called it my home, there have been plenty of opportunities for laughter and happiness… There have also been many times of sadness, some tears, heartache, and loss. Some of those times have unfortunately involved death- the death of family, the death of friends… and now animals.
The death of animals on the farm is not generally something that given much thought or notice. Animals are raised and sacrificed for our means, pets come and go. It’s simply a fact of life. That is the way things are, and the way they always will be… But in this case, there was something more than just the loss of life – in this case just the lives of a few chickens – It was the loss of an ideal.
Konrad under one of the giant stones at Les Pierres Jaumetres
Les Verrines’ youngest member gets his spotlight! Konrad came to visit with his mom Anika and his friend Josie for ten days and helped with a few projects, swam, ate gummy bears, and played. Konrad even got his “Petit Chevalier” certificate in his young knight training course. (more…)
Every year in the summer, the gardens are full of plenty of fresh vegetables of all kinds- Even though we had no garden of our own this year, the neighbors are always happy to help out and ensure that we get our daily ration of veggies. Perhaps the most prolific of all is the lowly courgette (zucchini)… They come in all shapes and sizes, for all tastes and purposes. Throughout the whole summer, there are courgettes all over the village and they grow so fast, no one can possibly eat them all. (more…)
Yet another crazy collaborative effort that took a few months to complete! It’s worth the wait though… This is Izzy’s view of Le Vignaud from her visit back in June. I think it may be the most complete view of Le Vignaud yet available on the WWW. Of course nothing beats a visit in the real world, but this is about as close as it comes. She’s captured some great moments, and lots of nifty details about the place that have never been documented. This is one for the LV Historical Society Archives.
Jeanine is an incredible lady- She’s 74 and has lived in Le Vignaud her entire life. When she asked me to help her dig her potatoes, I was more than happy to help. She is always giving me something, whether it’s fresh eggs from the chickens, or a nice warm meal in the evening on my way back from the garden and I’m always looking for an opportunity to reciprocate the generosity. She had about 200 or so ‘pieds’ of potatoes- some fifteen or so rows about three meters long each- all ready to be dug. She also has bad knees. The fact that she even planted them on her own is already amazing. Then, she surprised me once again when she held her own in the digging and dug row after row with no complaint.
After lunch one day, Odette pulls out her old Polaroid camera… I just happen to have a pack of trusty 600 on hand. It was great teaching Jeneane, a 74 year-old Creusois, how to look through the fuzzy viewfinder and snap her first Polaroid photo. And- most importantly, what to do after you take one: Shake it like a Polaroid! (Or according to the instructions on the package: Keep it in a warm place for 3-4 minutes.)
To the tree with roots
You ain’t goin’ nowhere…
Gigi’s gone. She left La Creuse this afternoon bound for the sunny south and Dirty Darren and I were left at the train station in Gueret alone… It has become a strangely familiar feeling being left at that platform and wondering where to turn next. Many have come and gone before and I hope many will come and go yet. Still, parting is the bitter fruit of friendship sometimes. If we become accustomed to one’s companionship it is sure to leave a hole when it’s gone…
On to greener Minnasota grass. Bon voyage. We’ll miss you.
We took one last trip to Le Vignaud to say au revoir to Jeanine. Her grandson Damien was there, and he took over my camera for a while. Everyone had to try on my casquette at least once (I think Jeanine looks best in it) and Damien forced Gigi and I to pose and jump for him. Quite the photographer, he filled the memory card in about a half hour and we were left with a few gems.
One of my favorite experiences in France has been the boulangeries. The back wall is lined with baskets of baguettes and other breads, while the display cases are filled with everything from €,80 croissants to €16,00 tartes. My favorite snacks were plain croissants or chausson pommes, an apple filled pastry, but I would love a chance to taste anything in those bakeries.
The boulangeries are wonderful all over France, but the Le Vignaud experience was special. There is no boulangerie in the village, so the bread is delivered several times a week in a bread truck. The driver would blast his horn and park a few houses away, and after running upstairs for my wallet I would trot down the street and stand with the other villagers as we bought our bread for the day. It was a good chance to say hello to the neighbors and let them know I can say more than “Bonjour,” although there’s not much more than that. I was able to practice my numbers in French when the driver told me the total, and I tried to make small talk. But even with the language barrier, it was still an integral part of my stay in France and specifically Le Vignaud.
The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.