spring

Spring has come.

It is afternoon. The sound of the flowing water which laps at the muddy shore mingles with the sighing of a breeze in the willows whose arms drape and sway languidly, covetously, in the gentle current. We eat sandwiches and chocolate croissants and make daisy chains. The emerald-crowned ducks float, serene, and a mottled goose honks his dominion over the swirling water. The bare branches of the trees are adorned with glistening green gems, and the thick grass is dotted with the bright yellows and soft clouds of dandelions. The car sings Louis Armstrong and Michael Jackson on the drive home, passing old stone farmhouses and field after field of lush green grass. The sky is wider than ever, and a thousand tiny silver trails scar the hazy blue, marking where aeroplanes fly incessantly, eternally homeward.

It is dusk. I listen to the children playing down the street, their shouts and giggles echoing along the almost empty roads. Accordion music drifts from a wide open window across the street, the notes rising and falling, dancing on the cool evening air. The gentle melody of chatter and laughter follows the golden glow smiling from a balcony two blocks down. The air smells of flowers and warm things and life, and a quarter moon smiles silver from its place amid the gently winking stars in an indigo sky. Behind the chateau on the hill a burst of pale yellow, closely followed by a shy green, shows where the sun sank not long ago, defining the roofs and towers which crown the village. 

It is night. Cars pass occasionally, sometimes with a dull burst of song or a heavy beat which seems to linger in the air for a moment. The sky is a dark, nameless blue, and a handful of strange stars remind me how far I am from home. The yellow street lights cast brown shadows on the dirty buildings, and the sounds of slamming shutters echo from every building on the street. Trains pass often, sometimes with the drawn out squeal of a heavy load, sometimes with the hurried whoosh of golden windows, a long day, and dinner going cold on the table. The wires rattle and mutter as they pass, disturbed from their restless slumber. The air is still and quiet, and people retreat to the comfort of living rooms, family and warm blankets, leaving the darkness to crowd outside, watching from shadows.

Spring fades beyond the horizon, waiting to return tomorrow, and leaves the night to winter.

first snow

Apologies for not writing more often – it’s been difficult to find motivation these past few weeks. Basically, these are the things that have happened in the past month:

  1. I changed host families. I won’t go into detail about that; suffice to say our personalities didn’t really match up in the end, which caused some pretty serious problems. I now live with a family who I think fit much better with me – a single unemployed mother with two children still living at home and three who live not far away.
  2. I moved to the other side of the country. Well, the middle to be exact. The family I am now living with live in Chalais, a lovely little village somewhere between Bordeaux and Angouleme. They own a house in the middle of town, five minutes’ walk from the supermarket and a couple more to the primary school which I now attend.
  3. Christmas. But you probably know that already. I spent it with the new host family, and it was pretty good. I got chocolate (thank you, Santa).
  4. The End of the World. Or lack of. Damn. Maybe I shouldn’t have sold the house to pay for that fancy bunker. I wonder how much tinned beans are worth on the open market these days?
  5. Snow. YES, snow. Hence the sudden blogging enthusiasm. I went to bed last night thinking how cool it would be if it snowed the next morning, and lo and behold, I awoke to that magical frosty loveliness that is snow. It fell overnight, and actually stuck around for most of the day, meaning that school was cancelled (yay!). Unfortunately we didn’t actually see it falling, but I have been assured there will be more to come in late January to February, and perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to get another few days off from school to enjoy winter’s kisses. I’m pretty stoked, as you may have guessed.

Well, that’s a basic overview of my current situation. The house here doesn’t have internet connection, but luckily there’s a delightful little English café just down the road with free wi-fi – they also happen to serve tea and homemade cake (or scones with jam and cream, if they take your fancy). I should also say something about their rooms full of handmade children’s clothing (dinosaur costumes, princess dresses, crusader outfits and flowery toddler aprons – oh my), handmade jewellery, second hand clothing, odd antiques and curios, a small library of English books and handmade English clotted cream fudge. They also have an assortment of other random bits and pieces, and all are lovely. The people who work there are all really kind and always up for a chat when I need some English. Basically, it’s a little island of (relative) normality in this sea of foreign language and culture.

Mentally I’m doing well. I was flagging a bit with the other family but moving has really turned things around. I’ve been enjoying the ability to understand the work we do at school (I’m a couple of years below my actual grade) and actually being talked to at home. I have long conversations with my host mother and sister, and we have a lot in common. I haven’t been missing Australia, despite weekly conversations with family members and friends; I’ll write more about that next week.
Physically it’s a little different. Yes, I have gained weight – which isn’t surprising seeing as I’m in France. Artisanal bakeries on every second corner and a country-wide horror of eating lightly, I would not advise a long stay in this country if you’re looking to lose weight. If not, prepare yourself. You’re gonna have a great time.

I’m looking forward to spending three days in Paris this weekend – which also means I have almost reached the halfway point of my stay here. Five months by February, and still going strong. I also bought a camera today so there should be many pictures next week. Brace yourselves.

I have to go finish packing my suitcase now. One of my new years’ resolutions was to write here more often, which I suppose I’ve almost failed at. I’ll do my best from now on.

bisous xx