Wednesday, June 15, 2011

calm waters

Is it possible (or desirable, but that’s a separate question) to reach a state where not much bothers you? Ed’s nearly always at peace with his everyday (and no, it is not only since retirement). One of the builders who helped with the farmhouse reconstruction had this reputation as well – not phased by anything. A state of perpetual calm.

I like it. I can’t pretend I’m anywhere near these men of peaceable dispositions, but I have always liked the idea of low anxiety and zero conflict. I remember telling myself at age thirteen: I will never again be angry at anyone. The “resolve” didn’t last forever, but it lasted for many, many years. It’s easier to stay calm when you’re very young.

Or getting older.

And this was a very calm day. True, it was a day of low ambition. The market. Tuesday is a market day in Sorede and we make it to market in plenty of time because, unlike at home, serious shopping does not take place at the wee hours of the market’s opening. There is a steady stream of slow moving people who come to buy, pause for a café, greet a friend and move on, to be replaced by another handful and another.

The market is very small. Sometimes there are two vendors selling fruits and veggies. Today there is only one. The produce is displayed under one large canopy, and you shop almost as if in a grocery store, except everything is terribly fresh and there’ll be more variety in unexpected places, depending on the season.


We buy tomatoes, green beans, endive, carrots. And sausage (with cepes!) from another vendor.

We had already purchased potatoes and apricots – in the courtyard of a Sorede family of apricot farmers. That memory of their sweet little fruits stuck with me all year long and I was thrilled to see them opening their gates again (they’d been closed for the holiday week-end).


They remembered us as well, though I’m not sure if in a uniformly good way. We are quirky buyers and my camera is dangling and I ask many questions and often do not fully understand their answers. I’m hoping it is their Pays d’Oc accent rather than my pot-holed French.

The women here work by a conveyor belt, sorting fruit and pulling out the bruised ones. Ed is frequently the recipient of their rejects. He looks like the type who would relish a free bruised fruit. Their call on that is a good one.


After a patio lunch (see yesterday’s photo – there’s not much difference in type of food or its presentation), and an Ed nap (still that, and sleeping again on the afternoon car ride), we set out to La Franqui Plage.

I have the most perfect memories of this beach. We had cooler weather last year and days of very strong winds. And still I loved this place. It's a little bit north of here (actually, a 55 minute drive from door to beach parking spot if you take the fast road). And I am so happy that the French rigidly adhere to vacationing only in July and August. Because on June days, the beaches are mostly empty. And, for us, stunningly beautiful.


The little village that abuts this strip of sand is sweetly unassuming (see photo further down). And if you cross a small channel that streams water into a salty lagoon, you come to a long stretch of seemingly never ending golden sands. Few people make this crossing (though this time the channel is quite shallow), leaving us with lots of undisturbed space.


Though the water is cool still in June, this year, the temps have been warmer and so I have little trouble going in.


And staying in. If you find an underwater sand bar, you can go out quite far and still keep to fairly shallow waters. To play in these waters, to float, paddle, push, wade, all that – is my idea of heaven.

You do have to keep moving, because the water can remind you that it’s not quite summer yet. But the air is so warm when you come out to dry that all is forgiven. The sea is your friend, the sands – your playground. Ed and I build our usual forts and bridges against the sea – crude affairs that inevitably topple under a far reaching wave.

Not that the waves are anything much today. Little ripples that come and go.


We return to the main village beach where children play and grown ups read and we watch it all from a sidewalk café that spills out all the way toward the sands.


The drive back is along the small roads we so often get lost on. We pass beach towns and Languedoc apricot orchards and it truly does not matter that we take so long to find the right road at the right moment.


We do better this time, but not perfectly so. We still manage to get lost. Or more accurately, we come to a point where our chosen road dead ends by the river. Not fair, Ed the map reader tells me. Who knew that there would not be a bridge.

At the supermarket, we pick up five bottles of apple juice. Ed loves them all – each juice is from a different apple variety. Pink Lady, Gala, Granny Smith, all the flavors are fantastic. More cheeses, more breads and we are set for a dinner at home.

I make a salad – one with potatoes, haricots verts, endive, tomato, and also just barely hardboiled eggs and this time smoked salmon. Another time it will be the local anchovies. With Balsamic vinegar and a local olive oil.


We eat it late, very late by my Madison standards, but here, time is however it presents itself. When our hosts ask me – what time do you get up and going, I hesitate. I have no answer. It depends. On what though? On what your sense of calm will allow, I guess.