Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home Is Where the Tarte Is

Easter isn't exactly the same and not always easy when you live far away from your family. If I were in Minnesota, I probably would have spent Easter Day at my sister's house with my boys, my family and friends. I would have made baskets for the boys (one is never too old for an Easter basket), we would have eaten ham and cheesey potatoes and then sat around a groaned about how full we are. In fact, because of the miracles of skype, late Easter Sunday I was able to join my mom, my sister and her family and friends as they were sitting outside enjoying the brand new spring (however, it snowed there last night) as they were groaning about how full they were. It was wonderful to be able to share it like that. And I talked to the boys, who both spent Easter at their respective girlfriends' homes and both seemed content and well-fed.

But holidays away from family are a little easier these days. With time, one finds people who become family and though they don't replace those who you can't be with, they're a hell of a good substitute. My Easter weekend began Thursday when I picked Claire up from the train station and turned over her precious car keys. We drove down to the Camargue to spend a couple of days with her mom (and my friend) Saro. Going to Saro's is a bit like going home for me. Not only do I arrive to a warm and inviting home and a good friendship, but the Carmargue is one of those places that feels strangely familiar to me. Perhaps you know the I've lived there before.

My "job" was to feed Saro's retired, 35 year old horse and Pedro, her adorable donkey... after being shown the ropes, of course.

We ate, laughed, drank, and when we finally left the house to do a little shopping in the village, which is right on the sea, winter-like weather kicked in. It became cold, rainy, and windy and our shopping venture into town produced not much more than a bone-chilling cold, sand in our teeth and an urgent need to get back to the house, put on our woolies, and turn the heat on.

Saturday afternoon, Claire and I returned to Aix where I made my tarte au citron for Sunday's lunch at my friend, Holly's. Okay, it's not my tarte au citron...the recipe came from Sharon over at My French Country Home and you really need to try it. It's a perfect blend of sweet and sour, so simple to make and always a hit.

Sunday, I boarded the early bus to my friend Brigitte's in Rogne, carrying my tarte and a bottle of Rosé. (For some reason, I always seem to be traveling by bus with baked goods!)  Since it was a beautiful day and the only really nice one of the weekend, Brigitte and I freed her 1967 Triumph from it's parking space in the garage....

took off the roof, and headed out to traverse the Luberon Valley to Holly's house in Peypin d'Aigues. I wish I'd taken more photos because it was a beautiful drive, through all the suprisingly busy villages (I assumed they'd all be shut down tight for the holiday) and the lush green of the countryside. I was really wishing I had an elegant headscarf and a giant pair of sunglasses however!

Holly made us a superb lunch of smoked salmon, gnocchi and salad. We drank our share of champagne and Rosé on the sunny terrace and finished off with the lemon tarte.

Afterwards, we did the normal, holiday thing. We moved from chair to chair in a well-fed, semi-stupor, groaning and complaining about how full we were, and finally decided to walk off our meal with a tour  of Holly's village. The tour of tiny Peypin d'aigue, a village of no more than 400 people, one bar and no other commerce whatsoever, took all of 7 1/2 minutes at which point we were back on the couches...groaning.

As I hiked home from the bus station Sunday night, my ever-present bag holding the empty tarte pan and a bottle of Sirop Châtaigne (chestnut syrup that is really good in a sparkling white) that I bought from Holly's next door neighbor (after I found him surveying the Triumph and complaining that somebody had parked that car like a Parisienne...taking up two spots) , I returned home to start my skype/ telephone Easter.

I had a fabulous easter weekend. No it wasn't with family...and come to think of it, the boys would have probably spent Easter with their girlfriends' families anyway, but I got to spend it with some of the family  I've created in my new home. How wonderful to have both.



  1. Sounds like an idyllic holiday weekend, Delana, despite the indifferent weather. The miracle of modern communications does bridge the miles, doesn't it?

    Thanks for the link to the tarte au citron. It loooks yummy!

  2. Another post full of humour, and not only. I love the way you made new friends in your new life.
    A new life is not always easy for those who chose to start again, but some great women (like us!) have many resources and take advantage of the opportunities.
    I hope that one day you will come my way for Ester.

  3. It is a blessing indeed to be able to embrace new friends and a new way of life, yet still value the old life. You must be a person who has much courage to do this. Am now off to look at the Tarte recipe!

  4. How perfect, Delana! A dose of family, a dose a friends, a good dose of food and drink, and a bit of adventure thrown in for good measure. What more could one ask from a holiday weekend?

    I can absolutely picture you in the scarf and glasses. Maybe a trip to Le Printemps is in order! :-)

  5. You've spent a wonderful Easter Delana - feeding donkeys in the Carmargue - touring around the Luberon in a convertable- devouring tarte au citron and champagne with good friends! Ah! that's as good as it gets.

  6. Yes to all of you. It was a great weekend and I have to always remember to value it. Even when it won't stop raining and I'm down in the dumps! And Jo....I'm feeling a shopping trip looming. I'll blame it on the rain!

  7. Delana, I read your post awhile back but didn't have time to comment. I want to know how your boys feel about your sojourn in France. (I know they're actually men now, but I feel like my boys will always be my boys even when they are grown up.) Do your sons make you feel guilty? "If only you were home, Mom" whenever they have a fight with a significant other or have job struggles, or any other time they need you.

  8. I can so relate to your writing from the cheesy potatoes to the Camarague to the lemon tarte to moving from chair to chair in well-fed semi stupor. Exquisite.

  9. Paulita-It's an interesting question and one that I planned an article about this week. They have NEVER made me feel guilty in any way and have been nothing but supportive. I think, in a sense, that they're proud of me in some way and I'm very fortunate. And believe me, skype helps. When they need to talk, we have all the time in the world.

    Pat- Holidays are really the same wherever you are, aren't they?


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