Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Provence Life Lesson Number One:

Treasure The Moment, Love Where You Are.

The thing about vacations is that they can’t last. To stay on vacation forever would mean that eventually you would take things for granted or get bored. It has rained 5 out of the 7 days that we’ve been back, so it is perfectly natural for me to think longingly about the pool at Roux-Cailloux or the smell of “lavendre”... but then I look at how lush and green my garden is. Each place has its own beauty, each culture has its own food and riches to share and each moment is alive with possibilities.

This shadow captivated us because something about the mountain’s shape causes the heart to appear when the afternoon sunlight hits just right. I am sure that I wasn’t the first to notice or try to capture the beauty of that view, but it was fun to suddenly look up and see the shape there on the hill. A simple moment that would have slipped by if not captured with a camera.

I miss the marketplaces in Provence. Shopping for fresh food was so much more intimate there, even if the selection was more limited. At the big supermarkets this week, I had to look at produce under sterile, plastic wrap or hunt for peaches that weren’t rock hard because they needed to travel so far to reach us. Just over a week ago, I stroked pallets of peaches and baskets of apricots to see which one we would buy, chose sun-warmed tomatoes from the farmer himself and wondered at the variety of colours, textures and smells around me. No wonder they say “good food remember where it comes from”.

Part of savouring the moment is appreciating what a local area has to offer in terms of food that you don’t get back home. For me, my trips to France will forever be tied to the taste of cheese. Cheese is a separate course there, served after the main course but before any dessert. From tiny stalls in marketplaces to glass cases full of incredible variety, there are dozens of flavours and textures to explore. None of these products would travel well and many of them are pasteurized differently from what we eat in North America... but OH! what incredible tastes!! From soft cheese that puddles from the spoon onto a crisp baguette slice to goat cheese coated in black ashes for a smoky taste, each bite touched different taste buds in your mouth. No wonder I am finding it a bit hard to go back to cheddar, mozzarella and cheese strings!

In the cult classic “Buckaroo Banzai”, there is a quote that says “No matter where you go, there you are.” Provence Life Lesson Number One was to appreciate just that. Great memories, experiences or tastes are fun to relive, but you cannot live in the past. Celebrate what can be appreciated right around you and make memories, even on rainy days!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Everything A Season...

Today, I helped one of my very best friends say goodbye to her mother. I watched Karen and her family share memories of a wonderful lady amid tears, laughter and hugs from old friends. It was a touching reminder that from Death, there is ultimately no Passover. What matters is not how much wealth you have accumulated, how powerful you have become but how many lives you touched while you were here on this planet. Those whom Mary touched with her presence while living will now treasure their memories and carry on.

After celebrating 20 years with Nick in Provence, I cannot image what John is going through after losing his wife of 62 years, but he spoke so beautifully today. There are some who say that such a loss would be unbearable, but I think of the famous quote “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Goodbye Mary... we will help watch over your family for you now that you are gone.