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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Village Life in France

After more than two weeks of cold and damp (neither of which I particularly enjoy), the sun has come out and temps quickly rose from 45F to 60 by late morning. To celebrate, I headed into my village with Tilly to walk the two or three kilometers to my doctor's office. (We live in a small hamlet about one kilometer outside the centre ville, or village center.) The office was closed but the doctor had assured me I could drop by and walk into his unlocked and unattended waiting room where I'd find a small box hanging from the wall. I did.

Tucked into this box were prescriptions for various patients waiting to be picked up and filled. Yet another reminder of how living in rural France is often like living in a time gone by. Sure enough, there were my two slips, one for my medication and one to present to the village nurse for the followup blood test I'll need in two months. I can't help but be charmed by the ever-present level of trust that's extended between people here.

En route back home, Tilly and I encountered a woman who lives in the village that I'd met at a village soirée some months back. She remembered me and even more amazingly, remembered my name. We chatted, she speaking very slowly, exceedingly patient with my stumbling French, and we talked about the weather, our gardens and the typical small talk one engages in with acquaintances. It's encounters like this that boost my confidence that some day I really will be able to hold my own in a conversation in French, and affirms again that my moving here was a good decision for me. She told me of various clubs in the village for all sorts of activities and suggested perhaps sometime we could arrange for some English-speaking residents to exchange conversation, we to practice our French and the French villagers to practice or learn English. I told her that's what my French class had been doing recently but that my classes were ending in June and may not continue in September as originally thought, so I'd be delighted to participate in such an exercise.

As Tilly and I continued on home, we passed the bar--filled mostly with men as is typical--and stopped to enjoy a café au lait at an outdoor table. As always, Tilly's a great icebreaker and conversation starter, and everyone who passed on their way in and out of the bar paused to greet her and receive a timid lick in return. It was probably a good thing that the adjacent boulangerie was out of my favorite pain au chocolat. They make the best that I've had up until this point. (Aren't I lucky?)

We made our way home, Tilly off the leash once we left the centre ville and she is now fast asleep in the sun, lying on my favorite lounge chair. Excusez-moi--HER lounge chair now, apparently. Meanwhile, I'm off to pot up some more haricots vert and squash as the cold snap seems to have arrested the first batch I planted outside two or three weeks ago. Bon journée!

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