Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Add to Google Reader or HomepageJust before leaving Vaison la Romaine, we got to spend a day with our long-time friends Margaret and Gary and their friends Ann and Andy. They had come to France to visit Provence and Paris. It is always a joy to see Margaret and Gary and meeting their friends made the day even better.  It was a rainy day so we spent most of the time indoors. After a lunch at the new cafĂ© on Place Monfort called “Mama Mia Pizzeria” we spent the afternoon inside vineyard tasting rooms in Seguret (Domaine du Mourchon) and then to Gigondas (the Gigondas tasting room where one can sample any/all of the wines made in Gigondas). We went to another winery that Ellen had wanted to visit – Domaine des Escaravailles – where they make a wonderful Rasteau white wine, but it was closed for the May 1 holiday.

We then went with them to the apartment that they had rented in Nyons where we got to drink some of the treasures that Gary and Andy had purchased at the wineries. Nyons is a lovely village situated beside a river and surrounded by mountains. It is the center of the olive oil industry in France. That evening, we went to a restaurant called “L’Arc en Ciel” (The Rainbow) in the arcade in Nyons and had a wonderful dinner. At the end of the evening we sadly had to leave our friends to finish packing and getting ready for our departure.

What a wonderful day with friends!

Just 10 days after seeing Margaret and Gary and meeting Ann and Andy, we picked up Vaison friends Phil and Margaret in Detroit. They had added a visit to Michigan to their vacation in the US and we got to spend a week with them showing them some of the sights of Michigan including a day tasting Michigan wines on the Mission Peninsula just north of Traverse City and a day at Mackinac Island. We also went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn. On the “no travel” days, we walked to the City Market, to the Michigan Historical Museum and the Capitol. On Monday, we took Phil and Margaret back to Detroit so they could begin their odyssey of returning to their home in Vaison la Romaine.

Hosting Margaret and Phil helped us make the transition from France to Lansing because we got to spend time with friends from Vaison la Romaine in our Lansing home. We were able to talk about the things we already missed about our lives in France and the facets of our Lansing life that we enjoy. Both topics helped define our perspectives on the duality of living here and there and loving aspects of both.

What a wonderful week with friends!

I guess whether it is “amitie” in French or “friendship” in English, the best part of being anywhere is the people who enrich our lives.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Soft Landing

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I finally had my head turned to “re-entry” mode. We cleaned the apartment, stored some stuff with neighbors and went to Marseille to get started on our trip home.

Ellen had already confirmed that since we had purchased our tickets before November of 2009, we were still allowed two pieces of luggage each. We arrived at the check-in counter with our three bags, all of which were within weight requirements. As the flight assistant proceeded to put together our seating assignments, she got a puzzled look on her face and then called someone and then announced that our ParisDetroit flight had been cancelled! – a decision made by Air France in February.

The Air France agent looked for alternatives, but all of them involved indirect routes and more time in the air and on the ground. She called her supervisor and he and she offered their apologies and promised to get it all together for us to leave on Wednesday. In the meantime, since Air France had not notified us of the change, the agent offered us a night at a luxury hotel near the airport. After a few hours of very attentive service, one can easily see the reason not everyone chooses “sleep cheap” lodging…

The flights on Wednesday were uneventful and Air France continues to maintain its reputation of serving good food on flights. We collected our bags, went through customs and got the MI Flyer to East Lansing where our friend Brian met us.

More important than uneventful flights or luxury hotels, our re-entry was softened by the actions of our neighbors. When we got home, we learned that the neighbors had planned a “Welcome home!” party which they had to move from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening because of our flight schedule changes.

Last evening, the neighbors arrived bearing food and wine and new babies and we spent several hours reconnecting with the very wonderful people who comprise our section of the Westside. Not only do we have the good fortune of living in a close and supportive environment of neighbors, the residents of the neighborhood have more of a world view than one usually attributes to Midwest America. They actually could find France on a map and are conversant on world politics. (On the other hand, our local newspaper did not include any stories on the elections in England on the day of the elections. There was a one-paragraph report the morning after voting.)

In Provence and in Midwest America, friends and friendships make all of the difference.