Thursday, September 16, 2010

Putting the Summer to Bed

I just woke up from a very long nap and I’m still a wee bit groggy. My little sister just left France to return to Minnesota after a two-week visit. She was the final visitor of the summer season.  That is both the good and the bad thing about living in a place like Provence.  I have not been lonely, that is for sure. I haven’t had the chance. The steady stream of visitors began in May, most stayed for 2 weeks, I had maybe 2 weeks in between them and I… am…. truly…. exhausted. But oh my goodness, thanks to them and their visits, I’ve had a hell of a summer!

I have hiked in Italy, gotten lost and lost someone in Monaco, antique shopped in Isle sur le Sorgue, 

lunched in Loumarin, lazed on the beaches of Carry le Rouet, Bandol and Cassis, dined street-side in St. Tropez (and also examined all the enormous yachts in the harbor… I think my future husband owns one of them), drank both coffee and absinthe in Antibes, 

swam in the turquoise waters of Lac du St. Croix,

 and wandered the rows and rows of purple lavender in Valensole. 

 I’ve driven the Route des Crêtes that snakes its breathtaking way along the highest maritime cliffs in Europe and traveled the rim of the Gorge de Verdun, one of the most beautiful river canyons in Europe.

I’ve learned how perfume is made in Grasse and bought my first REAL bottle. I’ve felt the thrill (and terror) of the enormous fighting bulls running down the streets of Arles and St. Marie sur le Mer, 

I’ve been horseback riding in the Carmargue and spied on the flocks of pink flamingos as they graze (do flamingos actually graze?) in the wetlands. 

I’ve watched the white Camarguaise horses galloping freely through the salty grasslands. 

I have visited the bird market in Paris 

and sat entranced before the brilliant yet transparent colors of the enormous Water Lily paintings of Monet at Le Musée de l’Orangerie.

 I have tipped a glass of red on the stairs of Montmartre

and sipped champagne in the cool shade of a friend’s grape arbor. I’ve attended concerts in vineyards and castles and even a grand circus in the country yard of a friend.

I have eaten fat, warm grapes from the vine and figs from the trees. 

I’ve savored wild boar and bouillabaisse and can now eat a fish with the head still attached.  I’ve been taught to make a mean mussel mouclade and I’ve even learned to almost like chèvre.

I have learned to drive like a true French person and finally become somewhat skilled in the fine art of both being charming and being charmed (and that this does not apply while driving!). I’ve learned to barter at the market and joke around in French. I’ve learned that the French bureaucracy will always be aggravation-times-ten but I’ve learned (and will continue to learn) how to get what I want through the back door…. like a native.

 I now know that it’s cheaper to rent a car through U.S. websites but more economical to buy a train ticket through a French website. And that hostels are a perfectly acceptable place to stay…if I don’t mind being 30 years older than the rest of the guests (which I don’t).

I’ve visited with old friends and made new ones. I’ve ended relationships and begun fresh ones. I now know that if I ever date again, le monsieur must understand “girls night”.

I’ve locked myself out of my hotel room after-hours and filled up a friend’s diesel consuming car with regular gas (oops!). I have had not one single run-in with the French police or crazy Frenchwomen.  And I have not had enough sleep!

So today, I’m washing the beach towels and putting them away, returning the last rental car of the summer, writing this article and finishing my test for my courses at the University, which starts in two weeks. And after a brief babysitting stint this afternoon (this should be interesting…French 3-year-old cared for by a 51-year-old American who speaks French like a 2-year-old), I’m going to sleep for a very long time.

There were times this summer when I really wondered why I continue to invite endless summer guests to my little section of heaven (and sometimes hell). But the time eventually comes, like today, when I know exactly why. 

My big thank you to all who have taken their time this summer to make my life richer.



  1. Hi Delana - I've enjoyed all those experiences you mentioned in your blog (except the horseback riding!), and not necessarily with guests from the US - but just as part of life here in Provence. And so, it only once again confirms why we live in this magical place. (Agreed, sometimes we need that confirmation - the administrative minutia will kill you), but what a great place to fight to live in!!

  2. I think that's more than I've done in the past decade! what a wonderful description of enjoying life. I loved reading it.

  3. Delana,
    LOVE, love, love this post! The photos are beautiful and you've totally captured it here.....with arms wide open!

  4. Holly, I know. It's been a wonderful summer, non?

    Stephanie-Thank you. I have really been a fortunate soul. Tell me who you are. I can't find a blog attached to you!

    Aidan-Provence doesn't give you a choice. You have to embrace it like that, don't you? You've seen your fare share this summer as well, haven't you?

  5. You're so right about guests making your life richer.
    I love visiting time...and I love visiting too!

  6. What a summer indeed! It's a very rich life you lead Delana; and I am so pleased to be a part of it now!

  7. Oooh Fly, me too. It's time I do some of my own visiting!

    Libby-yes Libby. It IS a rich life.I would so hate to reach the end of a life where so many opportunities walked up to me and slapped me in the face...and have regrets. And I'm so glad you're a part of mine. It's just SO COOL!

  8. Dearest Delana,
    As always, your blog delivered a well timed virtual escape; this one was particularly well timed as I was in danger of being devoured by the corporate world. Your words transported back to July, when I was blessed (because of your and Jeanmarie's efforts) to be reattached to my dearest friends in the paradise that you now call home. That visit and our renewed relationships served to renourish me and continues to bring me, not just strength but peace, excitement, encouragement, laughter (Jeanmarie IS lavender, you know), every day. Bless you for being you and opening your home and your heart to touch so many people. If you receive but a fraction of that you give, you will be truely the richest person on earth! Besos y abrazos (still can't do French), Vickles

    P.S. If you are too humble to allow this comment to post, I will just have to start my own blog! ;)

  9. Oh, I am so glad I came searching for you on this day! I got an entire vacation in less than 15 minutes! I feel refreshed and jealous, yet thrilled for you and your sister. I'm so happy you are enjoying your fabulous life! You definitely give me hope!

  10. Delana: LOVE this post and the photos are beautiful!!!

    All the best and good luck with university!

  11. Amazing! You have accomplished more in one summer than I have had in all of my summers put together! This blog post reads like my wish list of places to see and do and your photos are lovely.

    In fact, I have decided to print it out and use it as reference for my to do list for next summer.

    Merci Delana! I hope you have an enjoyable winter too!

  12. That was a full summer, but it sounds dreamy. The photos are wonderful! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  13. You may be tired, but what a summer! Don't go into hibernation just yet,though: fall's around the corner with all kinds of celebrations and 'new' fruits and vegetables. Is the heather blooming as madly aroundwhere you are as it is here?

  14. yay! wonderful post Now tell me Delana, you say that you've learnt the art of being charming and being charmed ~ how do the french go about being so charming? I've tried to analyse it but to no avail~ they just seem to have that "je ne sais quoi" that sets them apart from other cultures.

  15. Love your blog. Been to Cinque Terra, the Basque Country, and now planning trip to Provence next spring. I will surely follow you!!

  16. Dear Delana,

    How absolutely fabulous and to think I almost missed this post.

    I feel that you enjoy such a wonderful sense of freedom, and I must say that I envy you.

  17. Delana, Thank you so much for sharing...your experiences, your beautiful words, beautiful pictures, and beautiful self.

  18. I already replied to all your messages but I seem to be having trouble getting my own comments on my own blog. Perhaps it's heard enough from me already!

    Vickels-Humble? Me? Are you kidding. I write a blog...all about ME! And you know, the feelings are mutual. So which Sex and the City girl are you again?

    MAWB-There you are again! I'm so glad to hear from you. Hope springs eternal. Every damned morning! Thank god! When are you going to write again?

    Tanya-University is nothing compared to a wedding...and a marriage. My best to you both. We WILL meet up soon. After all, I'm on your poster!

    Piglet-I'm single and jobless. Need I say more. And if you do come to any of these places in my neck of the woods. You have a place to stay...or at least you have a coffee date!

    Lisa-It was full. My bank account is now a black hole.

    Tammy-I know. But that's what I'm dreading. Fall is my least favorite time of the year. I don't know why. All that DEATH! Mom's coming in October. I'll rest until then and then back at it! I don't know about the heather, but fruit keeps dropping on my head!

    All Things-I don't know. It seems to be more revered and people aren't afraid that it will offend someone. I've gotten used to it and now find it lovely. The other day the bus driver greeted me and when I had trouble getting my ticket to go through the machine he responded with "you need to go slowly. The machine is very romantic". And he smiled.

    Teri- Welcome. I love new readers. I will now go check out yours. If you have any questions about Provence, I'll be glad to help.

    JoAnne-I've been missing a ton of posts lately too. I've been living in a place with no internet. Yes, I do have a feeling of freedom and I relish it. But now, it's back to the books!

    sjd69- Oh thank you so much. What a lovely thing to say. Really.

  19. What a scrumptious post, Delana...I devoured every morsel of your feast of Summer! The words and accompanying photos are delightful. Thanks so much for making us feel like we were there with you.

  20. Thanks so much Jo. If you were all here with me I'd have NO time to write. And how cool would that be?

  21. Lovely post, Delana! You embrace life with such vigor! I'm so glad we got to meet as you were on your Paris adventure. Here's to many more! (PS, lots of visitors come to Paris, too :)


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