Do you remember that magical feeling from your childhood, when Christmas or summer vacation had finally arrived after counting down the days? I still have that feeling once a year, when I can return to my little village in France.
After all the anticipation, after all the travel preparation, I am finally here, and as happy as I can be.
Let me explain to you why this place has such a place in my heart. Since 1971, my parents have owned a stone farmhouse right in the center of France, four hours south of Paris. Every year since, they spent a few summer weeks there. That is until 2003. That is the year when my mother became gravely ill en route to this, her favorite place on earth. She never saw her beloved house again. Four months and five operations later, she passed away in a French hospital. She was unconscious for most of those long months. One of the last sentences she whispered to my father was: " Take me to my house and I promise you, I will get better in a few days." After she had passed, my father, sister and I scattered her ashes under her beloved linden tree in the courtyard of the house.
Since then, my little family has made the trip to France every year determined to keep the place for future generations. We have started to make the place our own while keeping "Oma's" spirit alive. I think she would have been proud of us. And happy that we are keeping her memory alive for her grand-children.
The house is in one of the most beautiful areas of France, one that has not yet been discovered by too many tourists, though the Dutch seem to have developed quite an affection for it. The area is called the Auvergne. Yes, the Bleu D'Auvergne, Michelin tires as well as Volvic water come from there.
It is a rugged, volcanic area that is so lush that it resembles Ireland, except with better food and more spectacular mountains. The landscape is breathtaking. Curvy roads wind their way through beautiful valleys. They lead through small century old villages with beautiful stone houses, and right out again through fields of wheat and sunflowers. It is a magical place.
I will continue to blog from there, posting about my summer life in the remotest of French villages. So keep on checking in. Pardon Me For Asking will just have a French flavor for a few weeks. And don't think for a minute that I will be forgetting about Carroll Gardens. You can be assured that I will keep an eye on my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood. I may be far from the hood, but I have internet. So I will be watching and blogging with a wineglass in my hand.
And please feel free to email me and to share the neighborhood gossip!