Wow time flies! I am run off my feet, run down and want to run away at times during this busy tourist season. Realizing we only have days left of summer break, I wonder if we can fit in some family time before school starts up for Daniel and Angelina this coming week.
What does summer’s end mean to me? The end of sleepless warm nights and afternoon naps in the shade. Floating in the pool with a drink in my hand I watch the sky turn to night and the swallows turn into bats when the stars come out. Summer’s end brings flies and fruit, both need to be dealt with in a hurry. In one hand my trusty swatter and the other my harvest. So far tomato soup, sauce and salad with basil were among the family favourites. Each party we go to serves ratatouille served and zucchini in a vast variety of sauces and styles. For dessert we have whatever season’s yield; plums, nectarines, peaches, and apples. Pick figs wild throughout the vineyards and hanging over fences onto the street throughout Capestang, this delectable fruit, I break in half to reveal its bounty and eat it with the skin. I cannot seem to eat enough of them.
A friend dropped off some peaches and plums from her parents garden and I had so many I made compote and served it over ice-cream. Our garden has already producing three rounds of yellow wax beans and all our provence herbs for the year. Still to come are squash and pumpkins that take over my garden, and carry up over my fence. It is so pretty I won’t be moving them. Their vines spread to wherever the soil is, and looks beautiful with their giant variegated foliage and bright yellow flowers.
Brussels sprouts are growing nicely saved for my winter crop and my eggplant and zucchini are not producing, not sure why. Better luck next year. A single solitary orange hangs off my orange tree waiting to ripen. If it makes it through the winds till fall I will be surprised. Both citrus trees are living inside pots and will move to the sunroom for the winter. A ways away to think of winter already when it’s thirty degrees outside.
After Alfonz harvested our grapes, he quickly realized we had far more than we could consume before they turned. He separated the best for our table and juiced the rest, which took a whole day. He put the strained liquid into plastic containers in the fridge. We drank, froze and ate what we could, and then forgot about them. Today we found fermented grape juice in the refrigerator that ended in the trash. C’est grave!
Daniel is in Budapest visiting my cousins, while Angelina bares the brunt of the daily grind. While travellers delay visiting the Languedoc waiting for airfares to go down, we patiently wait for tourists to wander through our region on bike. These remarkable wanderlusts cross our path. Some knowing that vacancies are up this week with the kids going back to school, they simply cycle until they can go no more, and head to the local tourist office to find accommodation. Not everyone feels confident enough in a foreign country to do this, but those who do, have quite an organic experience.
We gage our progress or lack of progress on where the children are at. I cannot believe how big our children are, as it was just yesterday we started in this new country without a word of French. Both have blossomed in village life with a supportive community around them, good friends and loads of outside play.
On the school front, Daniel enters grade five or CM2; his final year of French elementary school and Angelina is going into grade three, CE2. Daniel has the director (principal) again this year as his teacher, and in his class there are thirty-two students. Angelina’s class is a CE1 & CE2 split, where most of her friends are heading to CE2 & CM1 split. It is grave for my little girl separated from her closest friends, however she will roll with the punches. On the up side her class only has 22 kids. I leave the decisions to the teachers and will not rock the boat. I am certain they have their reasons for leaving Angelina with the younger kids. My guess is they split them according to their birthdays, and Angelina is not only new to the language which makes her seem younger but also born at the end of October so she is younger. With Angelina being among the older children in the class she has the opportunity to lead. She is also petite which comes with its own issues good and bad.
On the extracurricular front, both highly independent, vocal, and opinionated (no idea where they got that from); my smart little gaffers play instruments and start music theory this year. Daniel has found a natural talent for the guitar where he thrashes Metallica, Nirvana, Iron Maiden tunes and Angry Birds theme song after a few lessons. Granted they were from Flo from Goulamas’K, a very talented instructor, but never the less!
For supplementary physical education this year, Daniel swims while Angelina shows promise in gymnastics and skating. Her tiny physique with her muscular build makes these sports a good fit, while Daniel prefers solo activities to team sport. We still need to find a place for Angelina to try out her preferred sports, and will most likely end up in Beziers.
My ‘French’ kids come back for English Song & Play instruction this week, as well as my French moms for wine and conversation on Tuesday evenings. I miss them all so much over the summer, and cannot believe it has been two months since our last get-together. I can only hope that this year is a productive as last.
Daniel will be home on Tuesday night arriving at the Montpellier airport late in the evening. I am tempted to go with Alfonz and make an IKEA run before picking him up, and eating some Swedish meatballs. We will see if it works out or not time wise. IKEA is still the best place for linens for our B&B and apartment rentals, even though I am after basic white dishes this time. Getting tired of being two plates and three wine glasses short at each dinner party we throw. The French seem to have endless stacks of party supplies. I need to step it up a notch.
What’s next for Alfonz and I are French lessons with a handful of our friends. Our Hungarian, South African and English group of friends have decided to come along to French lessons at the local school in Capestang. Although we all get by with our excellent broken French, we realize the necessity of bringing our French to a higher level to get more work in the region. So far, our neighbours have shown us a vast amount of patience when it comes to our communication, never the less, after two years we really should be farther along academically.
This slow season also means my book going online. The process seems overwhelming, and my next step it to download chapter by chapter after converting them to the proper template. The thought frustrates me, and I can only imagine how trying it will be. C’est la vie! I may ask some of my techie friends to help me out. This is one task I have put off. There is only so many times you can rehash the same story before it brings you to tears. Just saying.
In the next few months, I plan 12 items off my 40 Before 40 list before I reach FORTY. Already planned are: Scotland, Port Adventura theme park, Valencia, and Paris. Playing the left hand on the piano and publishing my book are the two big ones that require time and not money, and are scheduled during our slower schedule.
Alfonz has work over the winter which means no stress about money. He also has a new toy, his GoPro, subsequently expect loads of motorbike and travel videos from us in the near future. He plans to take a few weekend trips to local destinations with biker friends while the kids and I are stuck in our daily routines. No sense in all of us hanging about. I look forward to him having some alone time, which really means, popcorn for dinner and the kids going to bed early so I can write! Whatever works right?
Over Christmas, we plan to drive back to Hungary and stop in Italy along the way. Although it is after my 40th birthday, I think it should still count for my 40 before 40 list. Alternatively, we may have visitors from Scotland over Christmas. Whichever, both sound good to us.
Abundance is the word of the summer. Abundance of guests, food, work, fun, festivals, the sea, sand in our hair, wine in our cups and an abundance of gratefulness for our new life. We will see what the future holds…