Friday, December 17, 2010
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année! Over the last four months we have made the transformation from a family visiting France to a family living in France. It is a change that has happened slowly, but one that has had a profound impact on our lives. From our new home in Provence, we have seen the seasons change from summer into fall and then slowly move to winter. Gone are the high-pitched drone of the cicadas, the heat of the sun, and the intense smell of lavender. If we walk through the garden, however, we can still smell subtle hints of lavender reminding us just what joys spring will bring. The trees in the yard are now bare. Their leaves changed from green to yellow and to a dark shade of red and then rained down when the winds came through. We witnessed the vendange - marked by the local wine growers hauling their grapes through town on old wagons pulled by even older tractors on their way to the local cooperative. We tried our hand at picking the olives from our five or six olive trees around the house. There is a local moulin d’huile, which will exchange a liter of very good (award winning) olive oil for 10 kilos of fresh olives.
In November we had our first snowstorm, which, according to the locals, is very rare occurrence in Provence. For the boys, who have grown up in Southern California, this was their first time to experience a snowfall. They are ready for plenty more of the magical white stuff falling from the sky. We head to the Alps for the boys first ski trip tomorrow, and as Europe has had the most snowfall it has seen in 30 years, conditions promise to be fantastic!
Over the last four months, through it all, we have managed to ride our bikes . Our local bike routes have turned into a mosaic of seasonal changes that, each day, offer something new to the senses. Sage, rosemary, burning leaves, fermenting grapes, freshly harvested fields, and the smell of rain are to name a few things that constantly delight the nose. We have experienced, first-hand, the light of this place - the same hue that has drawn painters here over the centuries. On our rides, the eyes are continually dazzled with the intense light and colors of Provence. The sound of this place now, in the winter, is most days one of a peaceful silence. Of course, on other days, when the mistral kicks up (intense winds that blow down the Rhone valley from the north), there is just the unquiet sound and fury of the wind. During the mistral the landscape takes on a barren and almost lonely feeling. When the wind stops and the sun comes out, life returns to the soil and the landscape is once again radiant and welcoming. It is hard to describe in words the connection that one develops to a place by this kind of experience on a bike. With this connection comes a profound sense of where and who you are. One with the planet so to speak. We are really enjoying our time in France!
From our family to yours we wish you very happy holidays and a New Year full of love, joy and adventure!!!
Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well!!!
Bill and Liam