It is mid September, the days are often clear and blue and warm but the nights and mornings are freeeezing. We are up high in the mountains and though we are still in the south of France and it is early Autumn, the climate is very different to what it is down in the valley.
We are living here in the middle of Les Cevennes in a little village of 200 or so people. It is the town of my husband’s maternal grandparents. The house we are living in is the house that his grandma was born in and died in. It is old enough that no one actually knows exactly how old it is, but definitely older than the French revolution. In the village, there is an epicerie (owned by a relative, as are most things around here) a hotel and restaurant and a little school. A little school that now has one extra student, a little boy from Australia. Australia! tres tres loin. So very far away. We are of course, the talk of the town. I am often stopped in the street by old ladies to be asked, ‘but aren’t you bored here?’ ‘Don’t you miss your family?’ ‘Yes, I miss my family’ I tell them, ‘but I like it here. I like the forests, I like the quiet, I like the mushrooms’.
Ah yes, the mushrooms. Always good to get that into a conversation. At the moment, apart from the Australians in town, the other hot topic is les champignons. Are they out yet, did you find any today, where did you go looking, there’s been too much wind, it’s been too cold, not enough rain, maybe next week there’ll be more, don’t tell the tourists where you found them… There is a special species which are hard to find, highly prized, highly tasty and fun to look for. On weekends, the roads around the town are lined with cars from the city, sunday drivers out to look for the ‘cep’.
Most days we pick up Leo from school - which he LOVES, oh my heart - and then we head out to one of the family’s favourite little secret spots and try our luck at finding some. Some days we are successful, other days not. But the forests are beautiful and the air is clear and finding them is not really the point. Well sort of.
I am enjoying the quiet here, the forests, the mountain air. There is no phone reception or internet at our house. An idea which was simultaneously terrifying and exciting. And while sometimes it is just plain annoying, on the whole it has been good to unplug and live a little more deeply connected to day to day life. My French is coming along pretty well and for a little while at least, I am enjoying being part of this little community…