Friday, July 16, 2010

Pardon Me For Asking In France: Back In My Little Village

Picture 4







Dear Reader,

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!


Ferran said...

hi Katia, I had been curious about your relation to this part of Europe, ever since I discovered your blog. Now I know...

Fur sure your mum is happy that you all are taking care of the place. Enjoy it!


Katia said...

Hi Ferran,
It is so nice to be back in Europe. I do miss it very often, especially our little place on the hill here in the Auvergne.
Are you back in Berlin?
I intend to stop-over in Germany every year, but it has not worked out so far.

Gailin said...

Love where you are, Katia. And the meaning this house has to your family, your mom's ashes there.
I'm sure the food is great - I just don't know if you can say it's better than Irish food. Irish food has gone through some amazing transformations and is now recognized as one of the world's best - freshest, artisinal cheeses, fantastic produce, meats, seafood. When I was there, I ate, and drank, like a queen. (I'll never forget the summer pudding).

Katia said...

Hi Gailin,
I spent ten days in Ireland a few years back and loved it.
I agree with you. Irish food gets a bad rap. The freshness of the produce is amazing.

Ferran said...

Yes, I came back early this year, and this time hope to stay for a long time!

If you and your family ever come to Berlin, do let me know if you need some info on lodging and others; I'll be glad to help.

Très bonnes vacances en France! :)

Allyn Howard said...

Hi Katia,

What a Beautiful house!! That is such a shame your mom didn't have the chance to see it again. It's a wonderful tribute to her, spreading her ashes there and maintaining it for future generations. I loved reading about it. Look forward to more of your Auvergne summer posts.
Hope you have a magnificent stay!!!

Katia said...

Merci Ferran,

I will certainly let you know when I am headed that way. Would be nice to meet you in person.

Katia said...

Hi Allyn,

It does seem crazy to come all the way from America to maintain this old house.
It was built in 1871 and does need lots of work and maintenance, but it is such a pleasure to be here.
Since my family has owned the house for so many years, my father and I am the oldest resident here.