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Published: October 7th 2008
I came on this trip to learn something. I think that's ninety percent of the reason anyone travels (even if they don't realize it). When I travel, I mostly learn about myself, which is a selfish way to look at it, and I don't intend it to be that way, it just happens. Also I hope to learn about a different culture. Right now, I'm not learning too much about French culture, but more about the British. Good thing I'm not particular, since nearly everyone I'm staying with is a Brit. I'm one of those people that loves accents, and when a foreigner chooses to live in America for an extended period of time, I'm always disappointed when his or her accent fades. Some even feel this loss of vernacular is a form of "selling out". But when I'm the foreigner, it's amazing how quickly my entire consciousness picks up the speech of my environment. I found myself today planning out something I wanted to say later (you know, when you say the whole speech in your head, and then hear the other person's response? I know I'm not the only one that does that!) and the entire thing was with
a British accent. I think there was even a "bollocks" in my head at one point. Plus, immersing myself in British tv every night contributes a lot to my assimilation. The Restaurant is on tomorrow; "simple boy", as Enid calls him, was voted off last week. I can't wait!
More than just digestives and expletives, I've learned quite a lot of indelible lessons. One of my life goals was to live on a farm, and inadvertently, Help Exchanging on this trip has ticked that off my list. While Peyrenegre is by no means a commercial farm, they do have chickens, and hay, and a greenhouse with every veggie from tomatoes to artichokes. Have any of you ever seen an artichoke plant? I came too late for the fresh ones, but the dying ones are sunflower-like, with furry heads. That fuzz at the bottom, that you scrape off with a spoon, opens into a flower, and it blossoms at the end of a long stalk. I'll try to get a picture.
All day yesterday I worked in the "garden" which is an understatement. We cleaned out the entire greenhouse of summer's fruits, leaving a few lingering green peppers on the bush.
We have a basket full of green tomatoes that will never make it to ripeness, but I have plans to fry them up, bringing a little Down South America to Britain and France. We loaded compost over the dormant beds for the winter, and planted leeks, garlic and beans. All of the tomatoes we've been eating have come from the Wilson's garden. All of the jam on our morning toast is homemade from homegrown fruit. It's an amazingly enriching feeling, knowing that your sustenance is directly derived from your own labor, rather than through a series of routes, from your hourly wage, to your company's payroll, through the IRS (damn FICA), directly deposited into your bank account, then to Safeway, who bought all their produce through an equally complex route. Of course that is just as equally working for your food, but it feels different. Enid has jars full of tomatoes in the basement (excuse me, the cave
) from her summer harvest, which she claims is enough to "get her through the winter". What a bizarre lifestyle, but one with which I have long sought to familiarize myself. It is one reliant on the elements; you don't eat fresh tomatoes
in the winter here, and the snails played a large part in minimizing their cucumber crop. The excessive rain also ruined their beets. In the city, we just pay a little more, for a little lower quality when something's not in season. So crazy.
I've also determined that there are three things I need to incorporate into my future life: a vegetable garden (I want to know exactly where my produce comes from), a dog (the little fox terrier here, Sally, is like a walking teddy bear, and I must have one), and an apron (it just makes sense!).
Also, I ate rabbit. Kevin turned it into a lovely pie with potatoes and carrots and zucchini (and I'm pretty sure some giblets, or whatever rabbit organs are called), and there was a gravy and everything. It was absolutely delicious, like chicken with a kick. But now I feel like a canibal, eating my poor little pets in a pie. I should be a villain in a fairy tail. Darn it, it tasted so good!!
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