Hot! Thoughts from Rural France

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Since I don’t have regular access to the internet here in St. Etienne de Serre, I have found myself jotting down the occasional thoughts I have that would otherwise become updates on twitter or facebook. Here’s the collection thus far:

Why on earth do we not have the idea of a siesta in the USA? Seriously, taking an hour-long lunch and then an hour-long nap is the only way I was able to work 12 hour days at last farm. Though I only work from 7am-12pm here, the afternoon nap is much appreciated, as it allows me to attack the rest of my day with much more vigor than I otherwise would. Because it doesn’t get dark until 11pm here, my current bedtime is around 12:30am and without a nice, long break in the middle of the day, this would be a much more exhausting schedule to keep than it already is.

Waking up from a nap to find the family rooster clucking and staring at you from beside the bed is decidedly surreal and more than a little amusing. In that moment, I thought I had woken up into some bizarre French version of The Hangover. Nope, just life on the farm.

Flies are a fact of life if you live on a farm. The sight of flies on my food no longer bothers me. If it did, I’d never be able to eat. Screened doors and screened windows don’t seem to have caught on in rural France, and neither has AC, so all the windows and doors are open at all times. This means flies are part of the trade-off for staying cool.

Calves are a much better alarm clock than roosters. When they’re hungry, those needy little buggers are loud.

If I lived in rural France, I could never live anywhere that has mosquitos. There were tons in Les Vans (none here in St. Etienne de Serre) and because I slept with the windows open one particularly warm night, I now have over 40 bites, everywhere from my feet to my face. They’re slowly disappearing but for now they are. not. pleasant.

I found something I won’t eat: cow stomach and tripe. It smells like poo and I just can’t get over that. Sorry, host farmers! I snuck the few pieces I had on my plate into my pocket and gave them to the momma cat and her kittens in the barn.

Life on a French farm feels an awful lot like a reenactment at times. In the mornings I drink my fire-brewed coffee from a tin cup while watching the aforementioned rooster peck around my feet for the crumbs of bread I’ve dropped.

Finding my way along the path from the farmer’s house to my little peasant house in the pitch darkness without a light of any sort has introduced me to a whole new level of cautiousness. It’s ridiculously dark here. Beyond about 10 feet from the main house I can’t even see my hand when it’s 3 inches from my face, and I have to proceed like this, feeling along the path with my toes, for a good 150 feet before I’m anywhere close to the door to my house, which I have to feel along the wall for. If I wasn’t terrified of burning something down, I’d put a candle by the door to mark it before I head to the main house for dinner in the evenings.

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  1. I would be happy to promote siestas with you!!!

  2. Siestas are SO necessary. One of the few upsides of working in childcare is being able to lie down in the middle of the day when baby naps.

    Or, in the case of my last job, FORCING baby to at least stay in his room while you lie down. 😉

  3. I’d so glad you’re at a better farm! Mosquitoes–no bed nets in France? Maybe try buying one next time you can get into a shopping/stores area?

    The rooster thing is funny–when I was doing some volunteer work in Jamaica the damn roosters went off all freaking night, and the dogs also were ‘nocturnal’ and would run around and play and bark . . . and then during the day sleep in the shade most of the time!

    Anyways, I can’t wait to read more of your stories and see more pics too!

    Take care and good luck,
    J