0 Thankful

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I spent this weekend with around twenty new and newer friends at Imogen's country house in Ribérac. The house was perfectly at home in the French countryside, with its red barn door, fireplace and full library. Though there was no heat, we managed to stay toasty wrapped up under blankets and drinking wine around the fire.

On Saturday, Ellie and I went for a long walk around the village and the outlying farmlands. It was a perfect late-fall day, sunny and cool, with big fluffy clouds hanging in the distance over the town of Ribérac.

With a significantly high ratio of English to Americans in attendance, I wasn't sure how the dinner would pan out. In actuality, the Brits embraced the holiday and we ended up having an amazingly successful Thanksgiving meal. There were all the traditional fixings, plus some English goodies, too, like cheesy leeks, Yorkshire pudding, and pigs in a blanket (which, my friends, is not sausage wrapped in pastry but in bacon). Dessert was four pies, including a pumpkie pie made from scratch by Alaina (I may or may not have tried all four). After the meal, Alaina gave the same Thanksgiving lesson she gave her kiddies at school. Then we all went around and said what we were thankful for, which turned out to be really lovely and touching.

For the record, I'm thankful for:
My endlessly loving and supportive family
Friends who ask you how you are and want to know the real answer
Having the opportunity teach in one of my favorite places in the world, and getting to speak French everyday
Warm French baguettes in salted olive oil
My house here and my roommates and my bright yellow room and my warm purple comforter
Two-hour lunch breaks
My health, and being able to walk to school every morning, and go for runs in Bergerac at dusk

1 La Table du Poete

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ellie and I often meet for a coffee in town during our long lunches. On Monday, we stumbled into La Table du Poete, a small restaurant with a wood-burning fire, an open kitchen, and full bookshelves. I had my usual double café, and she her pot of tea, and I wrote in my journal and she wrote letters. It was warm inside and smelled like grilled cheese, and all the tables were named after a different French poet. Everyone talked quietly and drank wine and ate steaming soup out of porcelain bowls engraved with the Fleur-de-lis.

I returned today to celebrate Thanksgiving by taking myself out to a nice lunch. I noticed this time that there was also a book on every one of the small wooden tables; mine had a red velour cover and was called Les cent plus belles déclarations d'amour. Though I had all intentions of having a simple salad, I sat down and ordered the Menu du Jour: a lentil and vegetable soup, followed by a potato, emmental and veal gratin, and a green salad made with absurdly fresh spinach leaves. In between lingering bites I struggled through the French love poems in front of me. Somehow I found them beautiful even though there was so much I didn't understand. The regulars inside talked easily from table to table, and the owner sat with her friend between preparing soups and gratins. The old women at the next table commisserated with me about the rainy weather; one had a boxer named Pimkie who rested quietly under the table, and who loved me for petting her between courses. I was thankful for that meal, most notably the rather American apple tart I had for dessert. After dessert I ordered my double café and wrote until it was time to walk back to school in the cold November rain.

image via weheartit.

0 Montbazillac

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After writing about my run to Montbazillac on Sunday, I realized I never put pictures up from my first trip to the vineyard. On Toussaints Day, Imogen, Celeste and I visited the Chateau, had a wine-tasting session, explored the grounds, and bought bottles of Montbazillac, which is considered one of the best dessert wines in France. You can see all of Bergerac from the Chateau, and even though it took me over a month to find it, Montbazillac is only three miles from my house.

1 Bordeaux à Nuit

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Recently, it feels as if life has been settling into more of a routine. The work week has become steady (as steady as a three-day week can be). I've started reading more, writing more, practicing the guitar, running - the sorts of things that occupy me at home. My room is bright and warm and feels like mine. It's odd that a foreign country is beginning to feel like home, and exciting that I find my French slowly improving, that interactions in shops or over the phone or in school feel more natural to me now. It's a little bit strange, then, to know I'll be going back home in just a few short weeks and seeing my friends and family and being in a place where everyone will speak English to me.

Even though the beauty of this country has, admittedly, begun to go more unnoticed, today it reintroduced itself when I went for a run up to Montbazillac, a nearby vineyard. It was a gray, windy day with occassional little drops of rain. The further I ran from my house - down a short side street, through a busy roundabout, and up a winding hill - the quieter Bergerac became. It wasn't long before I found myself in the vineyards. The grape vines, lined up in perfect rows, leaned sideways like they were faltering in a storm. Most of them looked bare, even though I've been told that November is a picking month at Montbazillac. There wasn't a person nor a car on the road for ten minutes, and I thought back to all the times I've run in Central Park and had to practically elbow my way between the hoards of runners. I saw the big gray Chateau de Montbazillac at the top of the hill, and the mist gathing over the rolling red and green hills, and I thought, this is my cold and lonely paradise.

0 I Love This Movie Before I've Even Seen It

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This just in: Carey Mulligan Will Play Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming film version of The Great Gatsby. Leo DiCaprio's playing Gatsby. Can you say casting perfection?

0 Bordeaux Jardins Publics

On Thursday, while the others shopped, Imogen and I explored Bordeaux's public gardens. They looked beautiful in the rain, with the autumn colors popping against the gray sky.