I have always felt like the start of autumn was the real start of the new year. Arriving in France in the fall certainly felt like the beginning of something big. We arrived with the sun rolling across green and golden hills, casting shadows under the russet leaves in the vineyards, the occasional cypress planted in among the native trees like evergreen trim on the autumnal cake.
We rented a house in a village in the South of France called Cruzy, set like a rough little gem between vineyards. The village is sleepy and slow, with shops following siesta hours, and a handful of vendors in the market square twice a week. A single charcuterie, patisserie and a shop with a few pantry staples round out the offerings.
Inside the village, three storied homes and buildings are set right up against the sidewalk, giving the village a feeling like a maze of charming alleys. Walk about five minutes in any direction from the main square and you leave the village behind for vineyards and country highways. The views from the low hills are breathtaking, and the autumn colors paint such a lovely agricultural picture. The views are so lovely because they run on and on and on. My camera just can’t seem to capture the beauty here. The hills are low and layered in rusts and greens and blonds. There is something so delicious about it.
As wonderful as it is to be here, in France, we are faced everyday with reminders that this is not a vacation. The guys have gotten right to work, setting up a makeshift office in one of the sitting rooms. Our sis-in-law Sue who accompanied us to France, Valerie, and I generally congregate in the other of Le Maison Cruzy's sitting rooms or in the kitchen with the kids.
With the guys holed up so much working long hours, or blowing off steam with impromptu chess tournaments in their den (er... office), some days it feels like we are start-up widows. The only thing we can count on is good (inexpensive!) wine, and amazing food. We have the most amazing food, and inevitably the bounty will bring the guys crawling out of their cave, blinking into the light.
With access to French grocery stores, there is no end to amazing ingredients. Items that are specialty and therefore expensive in the US, are so commonplace here. It has been such a treat to let our imaginations run wild for dinner, and the plentiful local greens have provided us with fresh salads as a compliment for every meal.
We not done any baking, however. With the best patisserie in the region right here in the village (and trust me, we tried them all), we have access to so many great pastries and breads that it seems only right to give the oven a rest.
Despite being generously large, our house is pretty packed. We’re six adults, a teen and two littles with more guests on the way. Luckily, this house has a barn fitted out as a game room accessed through the courtyard. Especially during the intermittent rain, the barn has been a lovely extension of the living-space. We have had a lot of fun playing badminton, and a game that the Goober came up with which is something between dodgeball and freeze tag.
It is a quieter life, in some ways, than we had in the Bay Area, but in other ways more chaotic. Par for the course, I suppose when you take 9 people out of their normal routines and plunk them down in a house together. Time is flying by in a blur of wine and bread and laundry. Just life in the South of France.