April 27 2013
After ten days of summery weather, spring has returned, the rain, drizzling somewhat reluctantly on and off yesterday, decided during the night, to get serious, its mighty music drumming the roof, a splash of cymbals against the windowpanes. All day it keeps coming and just when you are sure it can’t continue at such a pace it backs off just a little, as if to catch its breath, and then down it pours again. And what better day for such weather? What a gift to be told to stay indoors and nap by the fire; a reward perhaps, not only for the spring earth but for our tired bodies.
We have been packing since Monday in readiness for Tuscany; 14 boxes, 2 wicker chests, a portable piano, Joel’s large-format color printer and 4 huge suitcases. We arrived here 4 months ago with only the 4 suitcases, one for each season of clothing, 2 of which we had shipped ahead fearing they might not all fit in the rented car.
The packing was interesting work; somewhere between breaking camp and dismantling a theatre set until, much like ancient nomads, there is no trace of us left. Only our spirit remains, which we hope will embrace the owner upon her return here. And all the while, wrapping the crocks and dishes, linens and cushions and the many other treasures we’ve found during this time, I felt parallel feelings of sadness to be leaving and happiness to be returning to Tuscany. I also felt extreme gratitude to the owner of this house who not only gave us a home that we could be creative in and in many ways make our own, but also to be reminded, as the house gradually empties itself of us, that what remains is the loving ambience and beautiful aesthetic that made us want to live here when we first saw it last May.
Perhaps the greatest gift of life, if we are willing to do the necessary soul-work, is that as we get older and whittle ourselves down to our essential selves, the universe recognizes this and a mutual attraction between like peoples takes place, anywhere and everywhere one goes. Of course, again if one has done the work, one chooses where to be and I do believe we all resonate with our surroundings, whether it is the wild, determined energy of a city or the calmer, simpler energy of living close to nature. And good, kind, generous people are everywhere.
And so it is that our dear friends, Gianni and Giorgio, drove a big van up from Tuscany. Ten hours each way! Why? Well, it turns out we were right; those extra 2 suitcases wouldn’t fit in the rented car…never mind the rest of the list!
Our friends arrived Thursday evening, the 4 of us hugging and dancing on the street and suddenly Joel and I were speaking a ludicrous mix of French and Italian as neither of them speak English…and at the rate we’re going we soon might not either! Giorgio and Joel drove the van the short distance to our house, while Gianni and I walked back through the village, the two of us chatting and exclaiming, stopping to look at this and that; another round of the song we’ve been singing for 18 years.
I felt overwhelmed by the matter-of-fact quality of their love and generosity and surely, Gianni has come to take us home.
We took them down to Paul and Caro’s 13th Century B&B, which we’ve mentioned before, our friends having decided to stay the 2 nights there, to make it easy for everyone. During these last few months we have become become even closer with Paul and Caro, having gradually danced toward each other over a total of 8 trips to Bonnieux in 2 years. They are now a part of our kindred tribe and have also taken to Gianni – who doesn’t? – having visited him and Luana twice in Tuscany. And so the circle expands and keeps on turning.
Yesterday, Joel, Gianni and Giorgio packed the van…hmm, there would have been just enough room for that velvet armchair I had wanted to buy. In the evening, the 6 of us dined here, a fantastic meal of Joel’s, by now internet-famous lamb navarin, surpassing perfection with the addition of a few prunes. Two enormous bunches of steamed wild asparagus completed the plate and second helpings were ordered by all. For dessert, local strawberries as luscious as childhood’s memory, upon which I spooned vanilla goats’ milk ice cream into which I had whipped caramel beurre de sel. It was perhaps the only few minutes of the evening when laughter and conversation ceased to be replaced with the universal mmmm.
And what conversation! The six of us, with no common language, careened between French, Italian, English and American, discussing ideas, thoughts and beliefs on a range of subjects from Roman and Etruscan culture, to the similarities and differences between Provence and Tuscany, the complexity and sensuality of cuisine, the necessity of freedom from debt and impersonations by Paul and Joel, respectively, of Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire. But perhaps the best line of the night was from Paul who told us that, centuries ago Bonnieux was Las Vegas for the Popes of Avignon!
Our motto of MFN: More Fun Now, which we chalked on one of the kitchen drawers on that late December night of our arrival and which was last night translated into French and English, has proved to be a very fine motto.
Our Italian friends and our home on wheels left early this morning, along with baguettes and cheese for the long ride. And after waving goodbye, we two, tired souls came inside, took a couch each and fell asleep to the sound of the church bells tolling for a funeral. Now, as I finish writing, the same bells peal for a wedding, the declaration so joyous the rain halts for 5 minutes before returning with less frenzy.