Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Ticking of Spring

Chez Carmel in Cazals
The searing heat of el Valle de Oaxaca has been replaced by the nippy greenness of spring in the Midi Pyrennes. My habitual Mexican attire of short sleeves and sandals has given way to wool socks and four layers of thermal lining from the waist up. But so be it! I feel like I am experiencing the liberating joy of spring without having paid the bone chilling dues of winter. Spring is in full blossom here in le Lot, with wisteria, lilacs, tulips, and irises painting the landscape in all colors and hues. Walnut trees are just budding, and the delicate, tender greens highlight the wild purple orchids and delicate daisies scattered in the fields. Everything is lush and verdant and exploding with life.

I am once again staying with my good friends Carmel and Peter in Cazals. Carmel's place is a beautiful, old stone house in the middle of the village, right next to the Mairie. It is surrounded by an artfully designed garden full of color and imagination.
Peter's house in Cousteilles
Peter has built an amazing new house a few kilometers away. It is his work of art, earth friendly in all respects and crafted with much skill and ingenuity. So my time here is spent between two paradises in the company of wonderful friends. In a few days I travel to Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, another magical place, to visit my friend, Helene. I never take my good fortune for granted. I often feel like I am living in a dream, one that I do not want to wake from.

I cannot write about France without at least touching upon the culinary delights that seem to stalk me  here. I do not try to escape, however; there must be some victims. We share delicious meals and laugh-filled conversation on a daily basis, a wonderful combination. Laughing off calories could become the next fad diet!
Sunday market treasures

I never tire of our walks in the countryside. Despite the scattered showers and chilly temperatures, this is possibly the best time of year to be here. It is such a stunning contrast from Oaxaca. Each place has its own charm and magic. In Oaxaca the monuments at Monte Alban or Mitla mysteriously remind us that perhaps we are not as advanced as we think we are. In France, feudal castles sit perched on sheer rock faces that defy the imagination as to how they were ever constructed.
Chateau de Beynac
The farmhouses and manoirs that are built in the rolling green hills of le Lot are made with true craftsmanship from golden brown, local stone and terracotta roof tiles. As it happens, the farmhouse (below) near Peter's is for sale; anyone interested? I will be your gardener!
View from Peter's house in Coustielles
But as enjoyable as it all is, I hear the faint ticking of spring and the fluttery turning of calendar pages. I return to Corvallis on May 28th, a wonderful place to return to! It is a beautiful place to call home.
Peter & Carmel at his house

So the last month here, my friends, I dedicate to you. For you I will indulge in the usually not eaten morning butter laden croissant or pain au chocolate, the three course lunch at the local Auberge de la Place in Cazals, a second serving of paté de campagne or aged goat cheese, and an extra glass (or two) of Bordeaux at night.That's what friends are for! Happy spring to all!

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