Le Voyage

Carrots

The Apartment doesn’t have central heat, so you can only imagine the initial reaction a city girl could have. Only a portable heater the size of a medium or even small Home Depot storage box.

A few emails later, “Mom-Dad, I need winter socks.”

Sort of dreading the shock of the winter chill when stepping out of the glass door of my apartment but then forgetting when you see the Belledones. Taking a right down towards the front main house, digging in your heels first so that you don’t slip. Also, sort of dreading watching 4 kids but then forgetting when you see their faces light up when opening the double glass doors with the wind chimes above to ring your arrival. A gust of heat to warm your bones and Anne-Sophie with a list of duties for me to make for dinner.

Carrots. I need carrots.

All the carrots in the cave are gone so I need to fetch them from the garden. This, this was the best. 

Again, dress the boys in their coats and boots. And I, in my oversized borrowed mens ski coat. I grab the basket and we’re off to the garden. The air is thick and the ground soaked. Ducking under the makeshift electric fence we arrive at the two rows of unharvested carrots with their green leaves screaming to be pulled.

— 1 year ago with 1 note
Remembering

As I’m preparing a meal for the evening, Anne-Sophie walks through the glass door of their home announcing she is going to fetch some vegetables from the garden. Usually I cook the meal while the kids are playing outside without worry something is going to happen while my eyes are focused on food. Cosme follows his mom out the door as he scrambles his little fingers to zip his zipper to his yellow rain coat he knows he has to wear if it’s cold or wet. Also, the yellow rain coat which aides in telling the boys apart. Cosme is always yellow or blue, light colors, and Robin is always red, no exception, or dark colors. Robin, unaware of the activity happening downstairs is playing alone upstairs on his carpet etched with little routes for his cars to drive down. The door has closed leaving me in the kitchen while the white noise of French radio plays in the background and a few car noises coming from upstairs. Robin notices the quiet and slowly takes the stairs down to see why there isn’t activity happening below him. He then realizes his other half has left without warning and begins to cry, also realizing Cosme is with mom, which is unfair in their book. 

Me, taking my attention off cleaning and dicing veggies for soup, kneels down to Robin in a somewhat annoyed tone tells him to quit crying, “Tu peux chercher maman et Cosme, c’est pas un problem ma pouce, arrete de pleurer. Toute suite.” I zip him up in his red raincoat and he’s off. I watch him from the glass door as he rounds the house the wrong way in search of his mom and his brother, still crying. I put on my boots and coat to go find Robin to lead him the right direction. With a hard heart I walk up to him with frustration telling him again to stop crying, it’s okay. I point my finger at him and tell him to stop crying and that I will help him find his mom. And then I was brought to my knees by a request for a hug. Dirty tears are falling down his face as he runs to my side and pulls me down. Melting this hard heart.

— 1 year ago
Galop! Galop!

Yesterday, I was in a bit of a crabby mood. The last thing I wanted to do was take four kids to an organic food show (think the state fair, art’s and crafts, or car shows; lots of people) and wake up at 7am and return home after midnight. But I did just that. And of course, the time went by fast and for the most part it was bearable. 

Fast-forward to 9pm when all of the food stands are closing and the owners are covering their goods with linens so a late night passerby won’t snag any of their organic goodies. I have Cosme on my shoulders and we’re galloping through the aisles because their fatigue has begun to make them delirious, they needed some entertainment. I was delirious as well. But as I’m galloping through these aisles I think to myself how wonderful it is I get to experience that moment however silly it may sound. I’m in a gigantic industrial building with four kids, one on my shoulders, galloping without a care who is watching. 

Not too long ago I was asked, “So I’m assuming you like kids since you’ve been nannying all these years?” Well, yes, of course but in all honestly, over the years of nannying I’m not looking forward to having my own for awhile after I’m married. But I can’t help but daydream of what it would be like to have kids of my own one day and not care how silly I look when trying to entertain their imaginations. I can only imagine what Cosme was thinking atop my shoulders in those aisles.

I wasn’t aware either that while we were galloping they were setting up a stage for a Celtic band to play. A & AS fetch us to find a place to sit and eat before the music begins and we eat bread, cheese, Hemp beer, wine, pizza, and more cheese. We all sort of regain our consciousness from the long day and have energy to partake in the dancing. Didn’t see that coming. First I need you to imagine an organic food show. What kind of people do you think would come to such a food show? Well bohemians of course! Bohemians, hippies, gypsies you name it! Baggy clothes, dread locks, and lots of patchouli. So as the music starts, the kids are always the ones to start the dancing, Alice et Romane pull me into their circle of Lord of the Dance and we’re off. And then come the adults who do the same. So we’re in this huge industrial building surrounded by Celtic music. As we’re dancing I’m thinking about how I wish movies like Lord of the Rings were real. Dancing with all those people I didn’t know made me imagine what it was like when Celtic music originated and people took part in the dancing ritual in celebration of something. Not they had to celebrate anything, I’m sure half the time they didn’t celebrate something. But they partook in something together. I felt a part of a group of people I didn’t even know. May sound cheesy but it was a memorable moment for me. 

— 2 years ago
Anne-Sophie

Thinking has almost become an anomaly on the farm. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time by myself.

Anne-Sophie recently noticed my change in spirit and quickly took me in even more under her wing. I’m still in awe of this woman. I most certainly have a crush and hope to be half as strong as she is when I arrive at her age, but hopefully not arriving with four children. I guess you could consider this post a dedication to Anne-Sophie.

I’ve not only learned an incredible amount of vocabulary words in the categories of farm life, food, child slang, and medicine but I’ve learned how to:

-Walk in the pitch black of night without a flashlight (didn’t really learn this from AS) BUT when friends come over they ask how the hell do I walk from my apartment to the bathroom without light. Some nights it’s irrelevant to carry a flashlight because the moon is so bright and others I just trust my feet. 

-How to obtain a European debit card, health insurance, securité social, more health insurance and paperwork jargon that get’s ridiculously pointless…paperwork, paperwork. If anything I’ve learned that with any sort of health involving, school, activity, etc there will be paperwork and a lot of it.

The following directly pertain to AS:

- How to interact/communicate with four non-English speaking children while cooking and cleaning AND making sure everyone is happy.

-How to drive a GIGANTIC van down a teeny-tiny one way road in all types of weather with oncoming traffic.

-How to cook a number of things in a number of ways: soups, crepes, apple sauce, yoart, cheese, bread, tartes, etc. I could keep going. Basically she taught me how to cook without a recipe book. Woman loves to cook. 

Anne-Sophie has definitely been a light in my life here, even though she may not know it. She will know it before my time is up here. She has kept me pretty sane and will not let me be alone for more than I have to be. Which, at this point, has literally kept me sane. She told me yesterday I need to take the car out more, basically to get out of the house. 

I’m really unsure how she has managed the past 11 years without a nanny of some sort with four children. She has ambition, passion, and confidence. Even with four kids and her passions she manages to give her time to the kids and do what she loves. Granted, no one is perfect, and she forgets A LOT but doesn’t look back on mistakes just learns from them. I’ll stop there.

But if I could just import all of my friends and family here the French life would be the life. I’ll just have to bring it back with me. 

— 2 years ago
I’ll tell me what I already know.

Warning: vent post.

Il arrive. That one little thing that was going to break my spirit. Paperwork. A specific type of paperwork that I’ve had to deal with the past five months of being in France. Health Insurance. 

Now, if you know me well, you would know that I absolutely despise paperwork. Yeah, I know I need to get over it considering that the rest of my life will consist of some type of paperwork. But at least it won’t consist of French paperwork (at least, I hope not.) So, Health Insurance here is a bit different, among other things. But I’m not talking about other things. I had just got back from the doctor (for the 5th time) for having some serious stomach problems lately. Let me remind you, I’m in France so I have to explain, describe, communicate all my needs in French. Alors, doc says he just thinks my stomach produces too much acid and prescribed me some acid reflux meds and some antibiotics just incase it’s a bacteria. I’m still not convinced it’s that since I wake up around 3-4am almost every night with immense pain in my abdomen. So, I’m back from the doc, talking to AS and Arnaud about how to get reimbursed for my doc appt and meds when Arnaud asks me if I have a certain “Mutuelle” which is an addition to the Health Insurance I already have. I’ve already known about this so called “Mutuelle” but when speaking with the health insurance people they insist that I don’t need it. So I let it drop, gladly. 

But. It wasn’t just the Mutuelle, it was a bunch of other thoughts/stresses that have been going on. Yes, I’m being vague. Regardless, I was already stressing and that one little question about my “Mutuelle” just plucked a heart string I wasn’t prepared for yet. I looked at AS and just started blubbering all over the place. I was saying “sorry” in French and English. Apologizing for the abrupt outburst and not knowing how to explain my feelings, I took a deep breath after 10 minutes of ridiculousness and stopped. 

All this to say, that little moment had been waiting for me for awhile. Felt good but also I was incredibly embarrassed. 

Things here have been going well. Haven’t updated in awhile. Truly updated that is. Christmas/New Years was a trip. Literally. But had a wonderful time in Belgium and Paris traveling with a familiar face and seeing more familiar faces along the way. Visited the catacombs in Paris. Probably one of the most intriguing things I’ve seen/done in a long time. There is so much history in Europe. 

Life on the farm couldn’t be better. I’ve slowly come to realize what I want to pursue next and in my future. I’ve had an incredible amount of time to myself while here. There aren’t any Woofer’s currently and won’t be for awhile. I’ve never “lived” alone. I guess I don’t truly live alone but the separation of my apartment from the family’s house, I think, is big enough for me to say I live alone. I’ve been day dreaming a lot of what it’s going to be like when I come back home. Job, living, friends, etc. It’s going to be different that’s for sure. 

Time here goes by so fast, even though I have all the time in the world, it just flies by. 5 months, almost 6. I’m glad it’s gone by fast, but not in the sense that it makes my stay here less and less. Just that it isn’t dragging. All the things I’ve thought about and gone through here, I think I would rather the time go by fast than painfully slow. I feel like the past three years have gone by painfully slow and it’s picking up and it’s refreshing. 

Going to London in a few weeks to visit some good friends and then Italy with Kirstine in April. Oh! And some good friends are coming to visit at the end of February. Possibly a road trip to Barcelona with that crew, we’ll see. 

Au revoir pour maintenant. A tout suite. 

— 2 years ago