Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Daily Rhythm In A Little Village In The Auvergne

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And just like that, the summer weeks here in the Auvergne are slipping by.  My family and I spend the time taking walks through the countryside when the skies are blue,
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stop the car by the side of the road to admire the cloud formations 
and the silhouette of the Chain of Volcanoes,
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or close the windows and doors of the house to stay dry and warm when a storm approaches.
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On some mornings, we need to light a fire in the small wood stove.
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Sometimes, we sit by the big fireplace till late into the night.
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The biggest excitement in a day may well be a few cows being led from one grazing spot to the other.

Herding them is actually not as easy as one may think.  Take a look.
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Of course, this year, as in years past, we have big and small projects to complete on our 1866 stone farmhouse.  After we had the roof totally rebuilt last year, we found a local artisan who pierced through the thick walls in the attic, to add two window openings.

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He used reclaimed granite stones,
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which perfectly match the existing window openings. The new ones look as though they have always been there.
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All we need now are windows, before fall arrives.
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This is the view we gained from the attic. Do you see the famous Puy de Dome volcano in the distance?
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Here is a close-up, taken just as the sun is setting on a perfect day.
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Many hours are spent in the garden, taming the wilderness that surround us.
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Every year, I plant more, hoping that one day, I will have a real flower garden, one that thrives on neglect. I think I am making progress, no?
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It represents a lot of trial and error, but I am getting better at choosing plants that will survive at 800 meter altitude.  That includes lavender,
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and Rose Campion, which is multiplying happily in the flower beds.
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These daisies obviously like it here as well.
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I am particularly proud of my Jasmin, which was covered with blooms this year. Its scent was intoxicating.
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All the flowers mean that there are always vases filled with bouquets inside the house.
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In between guests, my husband and I never manage to sit down to relax for long.  There is maintenance to be done on doors and windows,
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and rooms to be painted.  This year, we removed wood cladding that my father put up in the mid- 1980s in what used to be the kids' room.
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Underneath, we found
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old wallpaper that he and my mother hung on those same walls in the 1970s.  It brought back a flood of memories, pealing away the years one layer at a time.
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Getting rid of all the wood from the room meant several trips to the dump.
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The result was worth all the hard work.  Here is the same corner of the room freshly sparkled and painted. Next, the wood floor will be sanded, but it may have to wait till next year.
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Now that it is August, guests are arriving and with that, I will be spending more time making meals in my little country kitchen. I don't mind cooking at all, as long as it means that I can shop at the local farmer's markets around here.
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Just look at all this wonderful local cheese.
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And these just-laid eggs from my friend's hens.
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I hope that your summer is going well and that you have been able to get away from the heat and the noise of New York City for a bit.

(This summer, I have been posting more photos as PardonMeForAsking on Instagram. Pop on over there for more frequent updates while I am here in the Auvergne.)


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Picture Of The Day: Curious

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So sorry for disrupting your grazing!
The end of another perfect day in the Auvergne, France


Saturday Is Market Day In Issoire, Auvergne

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Saturday is always market day in Issoire, a charming old town here in the Auvergne region of France
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Walking through the town's narrow streets to shop for produce and other merchandise remains one of the great pleasures of summers here.
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Many of the products are locally sourced, such as this honey.
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This merchant is at the market every time we come here
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and her strawberries are the best.
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So are her red currants.
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Abricots for jam or tarts.
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Ripe, flat peaches
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Choosing a melon is science: "Do you want to eat it today or tomorrow?" she asked.
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The average size of a red leaf salad at the market
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I loved this old man in his old-fashioned cart, selling his own produce.
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Rattes: the best potatoes for roasting
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Organic potatoes and onions
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The best saucissons at the market
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Smoked, herbed, with blueberries, bleu d'Auvergne or St. Nectaire cheese, to list just a few.
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Let's not forget the smoked ham
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Rotisserie chickens  to take home for lunch
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Pain Payet, just one of the kinds of bread available at one of the Issoire bakeries
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The crust is the best
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But the pain a l'ancienne can't be beat.
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Clafouti aux cerises...
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or brioches feuilletées, it all looks great.
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A new stall this year sold micro greens.  I took coriander and radish greens, which really added something salads.
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The same vendor also sold edible flowers.
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These blooms, however, where for the garden.
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Micro breweries are a thing even here in the Auvergne.
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Instead of a rotisserie chicken, one can also purchase live chickens at the Issoire market.
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or ducks, if one has a farm.

The freshness and the taste of the produce is so inspiring that I can't wait to get back to my kitchen to start cooking.  Sending greetings from my Auvergne kitchen back to Brooklyn, dear Readers.

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Zucchini tarte with onions, potatoes and goat cheese.
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Clafouti aux cerises
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Poulet au citron with coriander micro greens