Friday, October 29, 2010

Another half-year in Provence

Add to Google Reader or HomepageLeaving Lansing was bittersweet. I was ready to leave but we had so much fun at the gatherings of friends prior to our departure. I was happy to see that our deerhounds continue to defy the odds and live on but also know that they really are not immortal… On the other hand, we left the dogs in the care of two wonderful folks who will give them more attention than they deserve.

Alors, it’s back in France for another six months. The strikes and demonstrations did little to prevent our return. We are now comfortably settled in our village of Vaison la Romaine and enjoying the company of wonderful American friends John and Arleen and their friends Betty and Cecilia. It has been cooler than I remember from years past but on sunny days, the beauty of Provence shines through (and the temperature climbs to the 70s.)

Friends were really concerned about our return because of the strikes. They had seen photos in the American papers of burning automobiles and angry demonstrators and expressed concerns about our safety. While the strikes were frequent and included interrupting public transportation, we were lucky enough to arrive without a hitch. Our friends reported similar successes in coming from the states (though John and Arleen did have to wait several hours in Frankfurt after a flight was cancelled because of fog.)

From my perspective, the strikes and demonstrations in France are “le pipi du chat” (small potatoes) compared to the machinations going on with the mid-term elections in the United States. From what closet did all of these crazies emerge? – One of Ellen’s regrets about returning to France was that we were going to miss the John Stewart/Stephen Colbert rallies in Washington this weekend. I can think of no other time in my life’s history when the distinctions between equality and liberty have been so clear and so far apart. – and I used to think that Halloween was scary!

At times like these, one finds security in things that don’t change.

  • ·   Our apartment is just as small as when we left – but feels like there is more space.
  • ·   The village is about to begin the renovations to Place Monfort – just as they were about to begin when we left.
  • ·   Our friends here appear the same – maybe happier – or may be it is I who am happier to see them?
  • ·   I recognize a bunch of kids at the crèche. Some of the older kids must have not been old enough to move to Ecole Maternelle.
  • ·   Our French class is again on Thursday and again taught by the wonderful Mme Paris.
  • ·   The village workers have begun pruning the plane (sycamore) trees by cutting all of the branches that have leaves back to a knarly stub of a main branch.
  • ·   The bakeries have not forgotten how to make baguettes – though there was not one to be found on Wednesday afternoon…
  • ·   Mont Ventoux appeared to have snow on it – though it was just being as “bald” as usual.
  • ·   The church bells that ring hourly still start ringing five minutes before the hour.
  • ·   The vendors on market day have not changed their locations so I can still find the olive vendor that I like, the fruit vendor who sells the BEST pears, the cheese lady…
All in all, life returns to normal – and continues to be wonderful. It is good to be back!


  1. Welcome home to Vaison la Romaine. Enjoy your six months back in Provence. We are looking forward to a return to Sablet from Christmas into early January.

  2. I agree - Halloween is "fun" compared to American politics this year. It was great to see you - eat a few of your favorite olives for me...along with a warm baguette....I am soooo envious!!!

  3. Oh Mark and Ellen, how did the summer pass so quickly? I so enjoyed the cooking in Lansing. Have a wonderful six months. Of course I envy you and think of Vaison often. Enjoy!

  4. Bonjour Ellen et bonjour Mark,

    I sent you via your mail address (orange) two links I thought might be of interest to you.
    Arte 's reportage:'The United States of Obama"
    Glad to know you would have attended the "Restore Sanity" movement
    fingers crossed
    ps: strikes in France did more than work on pension schemes

  5. Glad you made it back to France safely.

  6. Oh, we are so envious of you.
    Ann and Andy Cameron

  7. I loved this post -- so descriptive, one can see it all. Looking forward to your posts over the next six months -- thank you for sharing your take on France with those of us stateside!