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Published: August 17th 2005
Quentin au petit dejeuner
Mom's favorite meal, eaten outside, was so relaxing we often spent a couple hours over our morning coffee.
When we arrived in Cornas it was just as I had remembered. It’s a cute little town in the shadow of the château Crussols, close to the city of Valence, but on the west side of the Rhone River in Ardèche. The hills above are covered with vineyards of St. Joseph, and there are several caves (wineries) in town. Cornas wine is famous for being very hearty with lots of tannins and they say that if you leave a bottle to age long enough you’ll have to eat it with a spoon.
I remembered exactly how to get to Michèle’s house, through the narrow little streets of Cornas. When we pulled into the drive I felt like I did when I got off the plane in Boise after the Cambodia trip. After all the strangeness of Paris, the Côte d’Azur and Luberon, I was finally home. Michèle’s home is magic, is exudes calm and peace. To sit on the veranda, in the living room, by the pool or in the garden is to feel satisfied. I spent quite a bit of time sitting in the hammock in the living room looking around me and writing in my journal about how happy
I was to be there.
Michèle’s house is so relaxing we never left the breakfast table before 10am. It was the same breakfast we had everywhere in France and Mom’s favorite. She marveled over the difference from afternoon and evening meals which are so regional because the French are very into regional cuisine. In contrast, breakfast is a bowl of either coffee or hot chocolate and baguette with an assortment of jams and honeys. It was the same at our hotels in Paris and Fréjus and at the chamber d’hôte in Luberon and at the Montalon home. Mom said it was her favorite meal and she could spend all day with breakfast and it would be a good and relaxing vacation.
Michèle took over my job of translator and guide over the next few days and took my parents around to visit Cornas, Crussols, Valence and its market, small towns deeper in the Ardèche hills and I’m not sure what else. I got to hang with the guys at home. Matthieu, Michèle’s eldest, of course was still in Fréjus, but Luc was home for the summer. Luc and I were close friends when I lived there in 1999/2000 and he
Apres le travail Luc ne voulait rien que se baigner un peu. J'aime bien comme il a l'aire tellement content dans cette photo.
is the closest to my age of Michèle’s four boys. He lives in Grenoble but came back to Cornas to work for a couple months this summer. Jaufrey is the third son and is turning 16 on August 27. Quentin is about a year younger. These last two were so much fun on this trip. I got to spend a lot more time with them than I ever have before. Luc was at work during the day, so I got to hang out with the two brothers I used to call “les petits” but who are both much taller than me now.
One day Michèle took my parents and I up to the “Cabane des Bois” which is a small cabin her husband bought with some land and reconstructed. Quentin agreed to come with us after only a little coaxing and spent the majority of the time trying to teach me how to figure out the Rubik’s cube. I knew it was going to be hopeless, but it was so much fun to watch him trying to teach me something I tried to be interested. Michèle might not have a daughter to look like her, but she does have at least one son who’s also a great teacher. Just because I didn’t learn anything doesn’t make him a bad teacher. I was just more interested in watching him fly through the cube I spent several minutes messing up than I was in listening to his explanations. I even saw him put the cube back together behind his back. I know there’s a trick to it, but I would rather be amazed at his skills than learn what the trick is. We all had a wonderful time at the Cabane with its “Merci de respecter ce lieu de paix” sign that always makes me feel close to Michèle’s husband Jean-Pierre, who died in 1999.
The Cabane is up in the hills and it takes at least ten minutes to walk to it from the road. The path is narrow and wandering so you can’t see the little cabane until you’re very close to it. We sat outside in the shade and had a scrumptious picnic of watermelon, pâté (lapin), saussison, and other food that apparently wasn’t as memorable. What was memorable was seeing my parents in a place I hadn’t even been able to imagine them. The cabane is such a quintessentially Michèle place I have never seen anybody there besides her and her sons. It’s hard to explain, but seeing my parents there was amazing.
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