Trading in the Porsche for a Tractor

2005 Porsche Boxster at Kerry Park
(photo courtesy of Kevin Grealish)

She was a beautiful yellow. Speed Yellow they called it. So beautiful, I felt compelled to strip to my underwear and take a picture with her (sorry, a collection for the husband and not for public viewing). I LOVED that car. I still do as I know where she lives. I keep tabs on her. But, as in every romantic comedy, I needed to let her go with hopes she’ll realize I was actually more than a friend and the best lover she’d ever find. Perhaps near the end, we’ll meet again only with a different VIN number and year (I’m thinking turbo). What I need right now is not a hot, fast sports car, I’m in need of a tractor. Something not too fancy that will get the job done. I’m still working out what job needs to get done. It could be food for cattle. It could be a garlic field. Whatever it is, I’m excited. Farming is not something I imagined myself doing. I scream at the sight of spiders, I run when snakes are present, I can barely keep my basil alive. I’ve never owned a houseplant that made it past a week. I will not do anything dirty without proper gloves. Yet, I see farming as a challenge. The great unknown. Who will buy my sweet red roses, two blooms for a penny. Who am I to think I can take on forty or so hectares of land and turn a profit? How do I turn on a tractor? How do I turn on a cow? I haven’t a clue, but that is the thrill of it. I can get a gaggle of geeks to churn out software in my sleep. There’s no challenge in that. Getting three pigs from one paddock to the next? Now that’s tough. Farming is archaic. We yuppies are so removed from where food comes from. Why reduce my earning potential to do hard manual labor without much room for vacation? What about my bonus? I’m still working out the answer to that one. It makes no sense, but it feels right. I’m very particular with where food comes from. I sing Old McDonald Had A Farm with my children and I’ve only seen in the flesh half the animals listed in the song in the last year. I am thirty-seven and I touched a chicken for the first time last June. The broody bitch was sitting on my eggs. I showed her. Old McDonald was more appropriate when I sang the version that included new granite bench tops and a new media room. Ee-eye-ee-eye ooooh. And in that house he had a new Viking range, ee-eye-ee-eye oooh. And the farming is only half of it. I’m really excited to figure out, in French, how to get people to buy my superior chook. My happy pig.. My pasteurized veal. Yes, the baby cow with the moist eyes. That cow. How will I sell it? It had a great life. Pastured with various grass species that I grew with my husband. How much will you pay for that? We don’t know. At the price of surrendering my sweet, beautiful Speed Yellow Porsche, I’m first in line to find out. I gave it all up. After a few alterations of the standard, blue (with seven fun prints) French lady smock, I await the first harrow of one of the many fields I will help tend. Which comes first, the tractor or the land ….

(photo CURTISy of Brent Curtis)

Doing It Rodin Style


Walking around Paris on my own with nowhere to be at any particular time enlightened me with unexpected imperturbability.  I moved out here to be in the country.  Two thousand five hundred scenic pieces of trees and sky.  Yet, I had no problems getting back to “go mode” in the city most people think of when you say you’re moving to France.   I spent about thirty minutes each evening by The Head, a large concrete head that is no doubt famous, which sits next to what was once thought by me to be Notre Dame.  It actually sits next to something that looks like Notre Dame like many other Notre Dame-like churches around Paris.  I realized later that Notre Dame itself is the Notre Damiest of them all.  I’m sure I’ll be enlightened as to its name in the imminent future.  By the church that isn’t Notre Dame, were two dudes playing jazz.  An upright bass player and a guitar man with an amp.  Those guys had a wonderful time playing or practicing their work while a gaggle of tired tourist sat in the park resting their feet as dusk falls.  The metro riders briskly walked past The Head to get to Châtelet, the metro stop with many options.  After listening to the jazzmen for a while, I’d pack up my book and pop on the iPod.  The musical selection of choice for walking around Paris is Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi.  It’s like living your own music video.  Nameless faces, in a rush to get somewhere important, couples giggling flirtatiously over drinks, traffic stopping and going and stopping and going.  An entire city there to entertain you as you walk from The Head to get a bite to eat.  After being in the country for six months where one can walk from home to park and see nothing more than an old mare and a barking dog, the city becomes more surreal than this city girl remembers.

But this isn’t what I really wanted to address.  What I saw in Paris was a lot of art.  A pain au chocolat cannot be thrown anywhere in Paris without hitting some art.  It’s everywhere.  No museum pass required.  I’m usually drawn to paintings over the rest, but after a visit to the garden at the Rodin museum (for a Euro!) I began to enjoy sculptures much more.  And that Rodin was pretty good at that stuff.  The curves, the positions, the sensuous movement emoting from a still object, the … hold on .. is that pigeon poop?  Was bird feces part of Rodin’s vision?  The guy works hard on this beautiful work and a bird poops on it.  And then it was everywhere.  No statue could be viewed by me without searching for the poop.  It became Where’s Waldo, the bird dung edition.   At last I found a statue untarnished by any foul movement.   Then, there it was, carrying on in the garden of Rodin as though no one could see them, but we could.  Sure not everyone acknowledged it.  Others may have looked passed it, but they were there, doing it and showed no compunction.   Naturally I took a photo, how could I not? Environmental players dancing on the art of yesteryear creating a momentary Farside Cartoon of today crossed my path and I had to shoot.



You’d Have To Be Asleep To Believe It

la liberte

I’ve read many books about people moving to France enjoying the lifestyles, the culture, the language and the food. Great books. I’m enjoying the lifestyle, the culture, the language and the food. I started to blog about the differences. Hey, look at all the cheese you can buy, but where’s the orange cheese? Or blogging about the cool things they have here.  Diesel diesel everywhere! Quickly, I found myself duplicating a common theme. Yes, it’s great here and my experience is no different in that respect. But the real question is why the heck did I give up my high-status shoot-me-an-email High-Tech Career with power meetings and status updates. Why leave my fast, yellow Porsche out in the cold rubbing seat to bum with a new daddy. My newly remodeled house with fancy water tap that turns on in the presence of your soapy hands and a range that turns up to eleven with 360XBTUs. I personally planted almost every plant in that yard. Why leave a beautiful, though cold, city that has everything I could possibly need. Including more than three private kindergartens, if selected, that will extract seventeen thousand US dollars from me to usefully educate my child. I was settled in Seattle so what’s with the big move?  Why France?

The last post I wrote on this blog was about the market and the amazing produce. Then, I stopped. Nothing. What happened in May? How about June and July? Was I around in August? September, I don’t remember. October is here, I’m here ready to get on with writing something , anything about what is going on over here after uprooting my family from the prototypical path laid out before us. The American Dream. What was my American Dream lacking? Did moving to France have anything to do with America? I don’t think I moved the family to France to get away, but rather to discover. Right now, here in October, I can’t articulate why, but I think I’m on to something.

I’m not knocking the American Dream or maybe I am.  As George Carlin put it, “it’s the American Dream ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.”  Or as James Truslow Adams, the coiner of the phrase (yes, I wikipedia-ed American Dream so there) explains, “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone …” mumble mumble European upper class “It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”  I got to a point (or a pointless), I think, where it really was about motor cars and high wages where the dream of social order and innate capability were put on the back burner, low-pri, minimal ROI.  People in America ask “What do you do?”  In the past five months, people ask me “How’s it going?”  ça va? ça va.