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I grew up on a dirt road surrounded by woods, cow pastures, and corn fields. I wasn't Opie. I could walk into town, we had access to both New York and Philadelphia network and local TV and radio programming, and both families of my parents had within memory lived for a time in New York City. We weren't hicks. But I could splash in a clean creek, pick gallons of blackberries without working very hard to find them, and drink milk that had very recently been inside of a cow that lived just down the road. Can you imagine going into a dairy barn, running the mixer to incorporate the cream, drawing off a gallon of fresh milk into the jug that you brought, and putting a dollar into the cigar box atop the mixer?

I feel at home in the Languedoc.The cow pastures and corn fields of my youth have been replaced by horse pastures and vineyards. Stone walls and tree lines separate the one from the other outside of Quarante as they used to do outside of Flemington before the housing developments ate up significant acreage. But French community planning is a topic for another day. My point is that I can walk out of my front door, turn right or left, it doesn't matter which, and within a few minutes be in the woods or on a hilltop with a beautiful view of fields and woods close by and mountains in the distance. I feel at home.


I think that there are more consequences of climate change than we realize because so many folks live urban or suburban lives these days and don't notice subtle changes. Seasons speak to the land, and folks in the south of France have long lived off the land in one way or another. For the vignerons, spring gets the vines up and running, summer sees them grow and mature, autumn brings harvest, and winter prepares you for the next cycle. The rest of us here sort of fall into that rhythm.

Its harvest now. While on our walk today, we saw tractors pulling trailers filled with freshly harvested merlot and sauvignon grapes. Older trailers aren't proof against liquid, so the roadways actually get sticky and smell of grape juice. I have a feeling that a more thorough discussion of the seasons and of the grape harvest are in order. Stay tuned!


A group of us walk three times a week for exercise, from two to eight people at a time, up to five miles at a clip. When we're done, we stop for a coffee together. Pictured are the markings that act as guides on walking trails. Blue lines and arrows would indicate local trails. There's a stylized symbol for all-terrain bikes. These red and white lines indicate that this trail is a part of the Camino de Santiago that marks St. James' wanderings through this part of Europe. Following these marks in the right direction will lead you right to the famous cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.


In France, that activity is not as mundane as it might seem. To affix pictures on the walls of old French houses, like our old French house, can require serious plans of attack. Walls that are covered with plaster might hide the French equivalent of a cinder block, concrete, or a chunk of granite. Adhesive-backed hooks don’t stick well to rough plaster. And drilling into a rock that’s been a part of a wall for 1,000 years requires seriously manly tools. Picture hanging may sound like a simple task, but neither The Southern Woman That I Married nor I look forward to the endeavor. 


  1. Hi Ira, Have you seen the movie ‘The Way?’
    Hope all is well,

    1. Yes, Andre. We have. Good story. We're well. Glad that there is an ocean between us and the crazies. Stay safe! Ira


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