No visitors on the horizon, holidays are over–although my Xmas tree is still up and very dry, mostly because I didn’t know how to dispose of it. Garbage is collected twice a week, but I never saw, as in the States, forlorn and discarded trees waiting for pick-up. Apparently there is a special collection which I didn’t know about and missed. My plan now is to de-decorate the tree, load it into the car and take a little trip to the decheterie (the village dump) and dispose of it there.
It’s quiet here in the village at this time of year. Days are short; it’s not quite light at 7 a.m. and dark by 6 p.m. Yesterday it rained almost all day. Except for a trip down to Marseilles last week (and my first French traffic ticket, which I didn’t know about until it arrived in the mail; caught by a highway camera) I’m back into a fairly familiar routine which for the most part is centered around writing. It’s my default behavior I suppose. If I were in the States, my routine would be similar. Still I’m in France so why, as a few friends have asked, aren’t I making more of the experience by seeing the rest of Europe? Even just more of France than this corner of the Languedoc and this very small village which is hardly a hub of excitement. “I would be bored, bored, bored,” a friend wrote.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit, wondered myself whether I’m making the most of this experience. I’ve decided that I am. In fact, I’m doing exactly what I came to France to do. My intention was never to be a tourist here, never to cram as much as possible into my stay, to rack up the list of cities and places visited. Instead, I wanted to experience the small moments, the things that make up day-to-day life in another culture. As I write this, I hear a dog barking down the street. I know it is Pepo, the exuberant collie who tried to eat my baguette when I first arrived in the village. Yesterday, coming out of the boulangerie, I was stopped by a neighbor who wanted, first, to apologize for the smell of the leaves she’d been burning and then to tell me that my wooden window shutters are not closed properly and she could hear them banging in the night. It was quite a complicated exchange, I had to explain that the latch didn’t work properly, but that I would try to find a way to fix it. All of this stretched my French to its limit, but I walked back to the apartment feeling unaccountably happy.
When I leave in April to go back to the States for a visit, I will give up this apartment in Montpeyroux, mostly because I want a place with a little more light and an outside area. I’ll be sad to leave the village though. It’s the people, really. The eighty-something woman a few doors down, reputedly once the lover of a famous French chanteur, who wants to teach me to “cook like a French woman.” I have yet to take up her invitation, but I will before I leave. If I go up to the village cafe on a Friday night, I know there will be people I know. Someone knocks on the door, or the phone rings and I don’t think immediately that it must be for Julie. It’s a good feeling. And, honestly, I’ve never been bored for a moment.
Which, of course, doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to a little exploring too!