Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Belle Provence or Beautiful Michigan?

Add to Google Reader or HomepageWe’ve been in Lansing for two weeks. The vegetable garden is planted, most of the home maintenance chores are finished and I am back on my volunteer schedule at the two nearby child care centers. Clearly, we are settling into our state-side routines.

As we encounter people we have not seen for six or more months, we are often asked about what we missed while we were away or what strikes us as a source of differences between Lansing life and life in Vaison la Romaine.

From the get-go, I turn around the first question and reply that I miss living in the center of a village where a car is not necessary. I miss the walking to – everywhere! Not just in steps logged but in people encountered who smile or stop to talk or simply offer “Bonjour Monsieur” as I pass. (At some point in time though it must have been recently, I stopped being middle-aged and became old. People say “Bonjour Monsieur” as a respectful way of greeting someone older – and to most of the world, the someone older is I.) In France, I averaged 12,000 steps a day. In Lansing, I may get to 12,000 steps once a week. In Lansing, one can’t walk to any grocery or butcher shop or bakery… - did I say ‘butcher shop’? I am not sure where there is a butcher shop outside of a grocery.

I have missed the camaraderie of people with whom we have forged friendships over the past 30 years. I have missed our neighborhood and the special connections/supports that our neighbors offer.

I have missed NPR and the Sunday word puzzle with Will Short on Weekend Edition. And John Stewart, and Steve Colbert and John Oliver. (I have missed understanding subtle humor and political comedy.)

In general, people speak louder here than in France and we Americans laugh louder than the French.

I like the pervasiveness of “the customer is always right” attitude in stores here. It may also be true in France but you might have to do penance before your shopping error is absolved and the item is taken back…

I miss good, cheap wine. In the US, food is less expensive – even though the produce in the grocery stores comes from three different continents – but wine here is more expensive. Similarly, a baguette in France is only a dollar. In Lansing, a baguette costs three to five times as much.

On balance, there are so many things to make each “home” attractive. We are fortunate to have such wonderful options.