Posted on 05 July 2006

I am sitting in the attic and the rain is falling so lightly that you have to look closely to see it is there. (So refreshing after the 38 degrees yesterday.) I feel at peach… oops at peace. Funny the difference one letter makes. (The peaches here are like none I’ve ever tasted – sweet, succulent, perfect.)

Last night I went for dinner at Basil and Clare’s and they also invited Jean Francois and Julie Aurel who used to be their neighbours, mine too when I lived in Basil and Clare’s house that first year in France. I like the Aurels very much, especially monsieur I must admit, because that first year he took it upon himself to teach me about the French, their customs and philosophies. He is a banker but he had (probably still does) one weekday off and often on those days, when he wasn’t caring for his bonsai, he would invite me into his house for coffee and talk and talk and sometimes, I would not want to be there as it takes so much energy to listen to another and more when the conversation is in another language and one must translate each word just to get the gist of it.

And so he would tell me about the proper etiquette to use when eating a tiny tiny bird (one lowers one’s head under the tablecloth) or how it is generally accepted in France that husbands and wifes have affairs though neither must talk about it. Discretion is all important. (Though he never ever made a pass at me and so I believe, he enjoyed talking to me.)

He gave me so many words of wisdom. Once, when I said my house was dirty and I must go and clean it, he asked me “what is more important? A clean house or a good conversation?” Another time, he wanted to show me a bull flight. He loved the fight between man and beast and made it sound so noble, I was almost convinced. Still I told him that I didn’t want to see it. I could not bear seeing either animal gorged. “How can you renounce something that you have never experienced,” he questioned.

Jean Francois appears to love life and when I mentioned this to him, he smiled and said that when he was a young boy, he had an illness that almost took his life. Ever since, he is thankful for every day.

But what I like most about this man (shallow me) is that he always shows his joy at seeing me. No matter who is around, he picks me up and swings me and tells me that I am fair and that I haven’t changed a bit since we first met (and that was sixteen years ago.) How could one not like such a person? And our joke is always that the year of both our births, 1949, was a very good year indeed. Last night he said that it was a dry year and the grapes aged to perfection and were turned into the finest of wines.

And so last night, we sat round Basil and Clare’s table (me between the two men – Clare’s choice) and we ate a multi course meal slowly and with each course, a different wine was served.

We began with olives and cashews and a sparkling wine from the region.

Next, we had an excellent foie gras, served with a sweeter wine as its complement though I wasn’t fond of it.

Then a gazpacho with red wine. (Basil has been buying wines from the region for years and tells me that at long last some are now ready for drinking.)

Basil then served a roast beef that had been rolled in such a way that each slice was a perfect circle, perfectly cooked (for me) with some red but not dripping; a half head of roasted garlic (the whole head had been sliced in half and so appeared as a flower on the plate); and baby roasted potatoes. Another decanted red wine was poured into each glass.

This main dish was followed by a salad, cheeses, and yet another red wine.

We finished with a fresh cream and apricot cake, prepared by the town’s Patisserie, and a very bubbly champagne.

You’d think that we’d have all been rolling under the table with so much food and drink but this was not the case. The meal lasted three hours and though there were many wines, only a small quantity of each was poured in each glass, and a copious amount of water was also drunk. It was a feast that need I say, I enjoyed immensely.

Today, as the rain pours – it has become bolder and bounces off the sky light in the attic where I sit at Gill’s cafe table – I am still content. I dream of ways to live this month that will benefit me. I have decided to follow David’s example and create a schedule for myself that will include times for thought, journal, dream analysis, writing to see what it feels like, to see if routine will help me find a direction, keep me content.

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