Thursday, April 05, 2007

from the Perigord Noir, France: April sun and forgiveness

Wake up, check the sky. Looking for signs of blue.

Stumble to the deck. Low-lying fog has settled over the Perigord Noir.


A bright sun would burn that off in no time. Move slowly. Should I make another attempt at a long hike? I should.

But not just yet. A subtext to my days here has been the never-ending negotiation on my condo. It’s interesting to make deals at a seven hour delay. After much thought (oh, about five minutes’ worth) and no deliberation (who would I deliberate with? The Perigord goose? I don’t think she is on my side after the foie gras sampling), I gave an ultimatum: it’s my way or no way.

So I may indeed lose the condo. So what.

True, I have now given over the lease to the loft, but life belongs to the adventurous.

Being away from it all is very empowering.

Oh, but the weather today… Back I am at Montignac, only this time I take my noisette and my chocolatine outside. This moment, at an outdoor café, in the April sun, with my noisette and chocolatine, makes me want to forgive everything and everyone. I do think that when the people of Perigord Noir agreed to pair their villages with sister towns in Germany to show their willingness to move beyond a dark history, they did so in a moment of April sun, at a café, over a noisette.


People watching. Taking pleasure in noticing the movements of another.




But is it really noon already?

I hike.

And immediately I get lost. The very second turn – I lose it on the very second turn! Who knew that when they wrote “turn at the Carrefour,” they did not mean the grocery chain.

After that I can never really pick up the trail again. I try, but the book never seems quite on the same planet. I make corrections by checking with the rare passing car. When it seems hopeless I sing very very loudly.

And it all really does not matter. It’s all about the countryside. Let me sit back quietly for a minute and remember.

spring blooms and rooftops

a plowed field and a fixer-upper

white flowers of Perigord Noir

instead of a Weber grill?

run to me!

I walked such a bucolic route, that I could easily forget that I am in the Noir (black) part of the Perigord. Some say the color designation comes from its black truffle fame, but others would say it’s all about the forests here.

And yes, they are always before you: the wooded hills of the Perigord


It is, to me, always unsettling to enter a forest alone.


I can do most everything in travel without companionship, but forests are another matter. The sounds are different. The animals have one up on you: they can hide. You’re exposed. No bears here, I know that. Hogs – do they have wild hogs? Wild boar?

In Poland, as a kid, I loved the forests after a rainy spell. Mushrooms appeared and I picked them. The smell of earth and bark was terrific. My grandmother, always the protector, warned of evil drunken men lurking in the woods, ready to hurt me. I never worried then, but I am now closer to her age and perhaps closer to her sensibilities, at least in the matter of forests.

But today I encountered no one. If there is a dark side to the Perigord Noir, I saw none of it. (No truffles either, but it isn’t the season).

In the hours of the afternoon, the sun shifted. So that, back at my café of choice, I now faced the other direction.

It’s my farewell meal – I leave early tomorrow morning. In truth, I still haven’t gotten over Sunday’s lunch and so I stay with something regional, seasonal and not too overwhelming, described as a salade du notre terroir (yes, of course, there's the canard slices and the walnut chunks, all extraordinarily delicious). With a Bergerac rosé.


…and a noisette.