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Digging Potatoes with Jeanine


Potatoes in the Cave

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.

This is yet another occasion I am proud to count myself among the ranks of these tough country people. The amount of potatoes we dug from the ground that day was astounding… But the fact that those potatoes will literally help Jeanine get through the Creusois winter is ever more amazing. The mindset is to use every part of the land to it’s best advantage when possible. During the summer, one grows and collects all he can so that in the winter he still needs little else.


Jeneane and Alexi in the Garden


Alexi Collecting the Potatoes

It may seem like such a simple act, but digging potatoes in the middle of France on one hot summer afternoon will long be counted among one of the very special things that this entire experience has brought to me. It is often the simplest of things that remind my why I am here, and what value there is in helping others whenever possible. It is for my own benefit that I help. It is satisfying in so many ways… Physical labor, time to think, working with friends, helping others, discovering culture, opening new doors.

Often I am conflicted with needing a purpose in life: a raison d’etre. But here, the life is simple. There’s a feeling that I get working in the fields or helping someone in even a very small way: It’s a feeling that there is no other place I am supposed to be at that moment. That I am exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be using this short life for. It’s a feeling I have not felt often, or for very long. But in Le Vignaud, I feel it more often than not.

Thank You, Jeanine for giving me a home, a place to be, and a reason to be there.


Wonderful Winter Harvest

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