Saturday, July 27, 2019

Home Sweet Home

Our new village of Saint-Léger, Southern France

I once read that
"old doors won't open new ways". And since I read it some years ago, I have found it more true with each new year that passes, with each new life experience I encounter. About 3 weeks ago, Jorris and I closed one door and open another. We moved from our tiny studio apartment in the village of Puget-Theniérs to the tiny village (30 inhabitants year-round) of Saint-Léger.

Together we closed the door of village and apartment life. And now we have opened new doors to a house of 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, spacious kitchen and living room and, get this, a honey room/atelier (workshop) below!! Our new home acts as a home and work place. It is owned by the municipality and one must be a farmer to rent it. The mayor, as well as the villagers whom we have met so far have been very welcoming and kind.

Home Sweet Home; I'm envisioning flower pots.

The honeyroom and atelier below; I love the blue shutters, very Provençal.

While the road is windy and 30 minutes to Puget, it is a beautiful drive. Fatiguing yes, since we have to honk at all the blind-turns, which there are many. It takes me about 30 mintues to get to work at the fields below, but the days I have to go to the ferme en haute (farm above, the farm house), it takes about 45 minutes. After a long and hot day of work under the merciless sun, I sigh at the drive back ahead. But, no distance is too long when you know you will arrive to a place you can call home.

We'll probably eventually miss from time to time being able to just run down stairs and step out on Sunday mornings to get some freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolate, eclaires cafés et baguettes from the boulangerie as we did when we lived in Puget (no boulangerie in our tiny village). But for now, it is such a luxury to have so much space! Our tiny studio was a lovely start and a charming experience, but with running a business and building a life together we are in need of space to store all of our creations, honey and natural cosmetics, alike. There are also disadvantages of village apartment life that we won't miss like hearing music from your neighbors perhaps you're not so fond of and village chatter and motor bike engines in the night when you're trying to sleep.

St. Léger Village Center

We live a little outside of our new village. It's smaller than Puget-Theniérs and there is no grocery store. We have one neighbor whom we haven't formally introduced ourselves to yet, but they live below us and have goats and sheep. They produce soap from their goats' milk. Their home is also owned by the municipality. I think they are also a young couple, and we are looking forward to get to know them soon.

It's amazing what a difference physical space can have on one's sense of well-being. The other day, I wanted to play music but Jorris wanted some quiet time, so I was able to go into our guest room and play my heart out! It was so liberating! Like, we could fully express ourselves and share one space together, in different rooms. Both of us were content. Also, a physical distance from work and the village of Puget is so refreshing. Being surrounded by all this beautiful nature is so calming and nourishing to my soul. When I get home from work I can just let it all go, turn the noise down and just be in peace to cook, read, write, play music, snuggle with Bodhi etc.

Bodhi and Frida. 

Bodhi has been enjoying our new home as well. Now he can go outside and also explore nature. He is loving it so far. As an animal, I think it is much healthier for him to be in touch with nature, as it is for us. I love when he comes back home from one of his adventures outside and his fury head smells like wild flowers and herbs.

Bodhi baby exploring the garden with toy. 

Having more space in our home also means being able to invite family and friends over, which is what Jorris and I love to do. Right now, Pap, mon beau pere (my father-in-law) has been here visiting us since we just moved in. His name is Marcel, but in Dutch, pap means dad so I call him pap. It has been such a pleasure to have his presence grace our home. He is such an incredible human being, with a gentle heart and golden hands, as ma belle mere (my mother-in-law) put it so well. He can make anything! He makes guitars, furniture, the best mayonnaise in like 30 seconds (yes it was a life-hack he taught me) and so much more. He also plays the guitars which he builds beautifully, classical pieces and bassa nova, which I am listening to now as I write this blog post.

He has helped Jorris and I with so much: assembling shelves for honey room, labelling jars of honey, cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, playing guitar while I cook, playing guitar with me, and today as I write, building us a kitchen which he so generously gifted to Jorris and I. We are so grateful and honored to have Pap bless our home. All the laughs together have been so meaningful. I've always appreciated Pap and now spending so much time with him and getting to know him more, I appreciate him even more.

Meet Pap, our Head Handyman/Contractor/Chef/Guitarist...

Ta-DA!!! I love the touch of the sparkling lights Pap added & so does Jorris.

Also last weekend, Jorris’ cousin Emille and his family of 5 kiddos and wife Yvonne arrived! They are doing a trip throughout europe by train and public transportation. We had a wonderful dinner that Friday night, Jorris’ famous cous cous and ratatouille-sytle veggies. They too are a brave family, having opened a new door themselves 5 years ago when they moved to Sweden from Holland. It was spontaneous and perfect timing that we moved to a bigger house so we could host them. We were excited to receive a whatsapp message from Emille saying how they would love to stop by. They are such a kind and well-rounded family. Pap and Emille and his family inspire me in so many ways. It's such an honor to call them family. 

Pap (Dad in Dutch), about to enjoy a veggie spring roll. 

We had a wonderful time together taking them through Provence to la plage de St. Julien and Lac de St. Croix, through the Gorges de Verdun and up to the most charming village of Moustiers St. Marie where Jorris and I had our first gelato together many summers ago. It was so joyful to re-visit the places where we first got to know each other and to share that with family. We finished our long day of adventure driving through the Lavender fields of Valensole where some fields of Lavender hadn't been cut yet and we could still smell the magic. Jorris stopped by to check on his bees, naturally. I am so happy he had some time to enjoy summer and family since he is working so much. He would never take time off for himself and rarely for us during this busy time of the season, but he was delighted to take time off for family. 

Afternoons are for picnics; Emille, Yvonne and the kiddos. Photo: Pap

Evenings are for guitar concerts. 

Life happens in rhythms big and small. These cycles are constantly shifting and changing within ourselves, within our society, community, Mother Nature. Not to long ago I wrote about the Buddhist concept of Dukkha and reflected upon my own struggles in that moment. And, at now in this moment, we've shifted into a new cycle, moved through a new door, of such joy and abundance in good organic food and a household of love.  

Veggie Spring Rolls for dinner with some veggies from the farm. 

How about those views out those windows!

Fresh organic tomatoes from the farm where I work.

Emille and his family added their touch of love to our home, lending a hand with building the kitchen as well as adding a little surprise of art to the some of the beehives in the atelier. We were told by the kiddos that we were not allowed to enter the atelier. A few hours later they invited us in and the sweet sight nearly brought tears to my eyes. Jorris had a bright smile on his face. Their gift really warmed our hearts and home and our bees' homes. 

A little surprise the kiddos and their mom created. 

Handfuls of magic. 

An artful gift to the bees. 

Jorris and I have walked through many doors together now. We walked through a door of wwoofing and organic farming, the sliding door of the j9 camping car where we lived in while in Villetale Haute, then the wooden doors of the yurt, the door of marriage, and up until recently the grand apartment door of Puget-Théniers, and now the home-y one of Saint-Léger.

Our future garden space! How many butterflies can you spot?

I'm so excited for what the land here will teach me, what plants I will discover, insects, trees and animals. The air is so fresh and the spring water so clean (we saw the report from the Mayor's office!). We also get our water heated by the sun with 2 solar panels on the roof. To top it off, the week before was a full moon and lunar eclipse where, the Moon in all her glory greeted me through my bedroom window, full and bright with the silhouette of a tree in the left and mountains in the foreground of the window frame, a perfect picture. I soaked it all in. 

If you are going through a rhythm of life that is unpleasant, dark or uncomfortable, fear not, for a new door awaits you, sooner than you know. Hang in there. Just be compassionate and patient with yourself. Trust that you'll know which door to open when you see it, and when you see it, though it'll be new and unfamiliar, don't be afraid to step through.

Our old & beautiful door to our apartment in Puget.

*photos by me unless noted otherwise.

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