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Le Vignaud

La Massacre

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.


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…

. . . . .

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.


Le Vignaud on Fire

Last September Jason got an email from an old friend about a little stone house in France. Wearing his blue suit and with two suitcases he set off on an adventure. A year later, none of us really know what’s going to happen to that house. We usually don’t even know what’s happening with Jason…

Jason’s decision set off a series of events and adventures in my own life, which most recently took to me to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. Burning Man was my own experience, but I still paid homage to its origin in my life.

On the base of the Man

On the base of the Man

One of the first things I did after arriving to Burning Man was walk over to the giant wooden effigy and leave my mark in Le Vignaud Blue. Nearly a week later, after the Man was just a pile of burning and smoldering ashes I threw in a 200 year old piece of oak, taken from an old roof beam in Le Vignaud.

At first I wasn’t sure why I put this memorial at the Man instead of the Temple. I think it’s because although Jason’s role in Le Vignaud may soon be at an end, the village itself and the few people living there will keep on truckin’. And who knows, maybe being burned with the Man as a symbol of rebirth will prove to be a bit of good luck for the little commune.

Izzy’s Le Vignaud

Izzy and Friend

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.


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.


Stone and Glass (New Stairs)

The New Stairs

Finally Finished!

Those things are better which are perfected by nature than those which are finished by art.

Back in February when we cleared out the yard, we built some steps up the front path near the mailbox. Still, on the opposite side of the yard near the house, there was another drop-off with no proper way down. I always felt bad when Jeneane would come over and she couldn’t come down into the lower yard. If she wanted to come into the house she had to go the long way around through the driveway. I had been promising her I’d build some stairs to get down to the house since probably November or December. This is the story of Jeneane’s stairs.


Summer is HERE

It’s been a long wait and after all those cold winter days, summer has finally arrived. It’s this time of year that we all remember exactly why we are here. It’s a beautiful time of year to live here, with beautiful weather and nature rewards all who are in it’s presence.

Flowers in the Front Yard

Flowers in the Front Yard

So, a few updates of possible interest for all of you out there…

  • Summer is here. The weather is gorgeous, the flowers are blooming, and gardens everywhere are full.
  • Lake swimming… happens all the time. Not for the timid, but it’s oh so wonderful for those who dare.
  • Cherries are RIPE! We’ve been picking all week long, with no end in sight. Jams, pies, and soon- Clafoutis!
  • The Le Vignaud website can be considered officially ‘live’. So watch out. There’s still plenty of kinks and things to work out as well as other planned additions and updates that will take some time to work out. I’ll be making all my updates through here from now on, so please bookmark and check back regularly.
  • YOU can get involved- Have some thoughts or photos you’d like to share? Sign up, drop a line, and I’ll make it so… author permissions all around people, no excuses. I’d love to get posts and/or photos from everyone who’s been involved so far. That means YOU! Juli has made the first guest post, and you can read her thoughts about Real French Bread.
  • I am still here. That is, I am still living at Le Vignaud. Still loving and cherishing every minute of it. I mean this in every sense that that would not have been possible without everyone out there: My friends, my family, and everyone giving their love and support. I can not give thanks enough for that support, and I would not be here still if it were not there… the response I received when I made the announcement that I was leaving was immense. I can not ignore it. I am living day by day, and hoping for the best. Thank you all for taking this ride with me.

Plenty more photos and words to come. Please take the time to SUBSCRIBE NOW, so that I can lay off the spam. You can also receive email updates if you prefer, but either way please keep in touch.

Love and light,

Real French Bread

Jeneanne with her Spoils

Jeanine with her Spoils

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.


Home (A Photo Study)

The Mantle, Still Sponsored by PhilbeeWhen does an empty space turn into that thing called Home?

Last November, I moved into a house I had never seen and did not intend to inhabit very long. Without realizing it, that place became home. It happened so suddenly, and when Home comes- things begin to change. No longer is the space around you simply the space in which you live. The space in which you live becomes loved. It becomes part of you. You care for it as Self; You come to know it, and you accept it faults along with its praises. The chipping paint and cracked floors give voice to memories, and the clock lives at 5:39 forever.

Then came the time when I had to leave that place I called Home. When I left that space and moved my belongings to another location, did Home follow me? Or do pieces of Home stay behind? Perhaps home is less of a stationary object or place, but rather something closer to an idea; an ever-changing cloud of objects, people, ideas, and routines that circle in and out of our daily life…