Posts Tagged ‘travel’

How did you get here so quickly? And where did all the daffodils and flowering plum trees and quince bushes you brought with you come from? Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, since Winter never really showed up here in the first place. But for this New Englander, Spring always comes eerily early in Northern California. Isn’t the landscape supposed to be dreary and barren until the ground thaws out in May?

My seasonal confusion probably hasn’t been helped by the fact that B and I just spent 2 weeks in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, where the temperature hovers around H-O-T °F and the humidity seems to be about 99.9% (literally, my skin was moist to the touch at all times). We were there for my sister-in-law’s wedding, a beautiful mix of French, Ivoirian, and Congolese (my new brother-in-law–exciting for this only child!–is from Kinshasa) traditions. It seems our family has taken a liking to February nuptials. Amélie and Julien were married one week to the day before B’s and my one year anniversary. And Mamie Jo and Papi René (B’s paternal grandparents) celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary just last week.

Maybe February wedding celebrations are the best way to break out of the winter doldrums? They’ve certainly been a great excuse for travel for our family in France!

Since I never posted them last year, here are a few pics* from our Boston wedding.

Happy…dare I say it too soon?…Spring! Okay, not quite, but we’re almost there…

*All pics courtesy of our wonderful and talented wedding photographer, Joyelle West.


Read Full Post »

Chez nous

Home sweet home on the goat farm, July 2008

Without realizing it, when I left for France in July of 2008 I said goodbye to urban apartment life for, perhaps, ever. I was on my way to a 3 month stint on organic farms, and little did I know that I would spend the next 18 months bouncing from goat farm to vegetable patch to vineyard and back. Tucked in between were a few stays with Mom and Dad, a number of nights in the guest bedrooms of generous friends and family, and a month-long rental in a cozy cottage in Sonoma County, CA. For a year and a half, my life fit into several suitcases and a trekking pack that I dragged 3 times to France and now twice to California. I was officially a nomad. My aunt even went so far as to call me a gypsy (in the romantic sense of the word I’d like to think).

But there came a time when my only-somewhat-dormant nester’s instinct emerged, and the urge to have a home of my own took hold. I am a cancer, after all. So when Bastien got a job on a vineyard in California, and his visa finally came through, and we shouted for joy after a full year of planning and dead-end emails and tearing our hair out, I realized it was time to start looking for a home. Okay, truth be told, I had already spent months poring over houses on Craigslist, but now I could actually respond to the ads!

When it came down to it, though, there just weren’t many listings under the Gold Country section of Craigslist. In all of my excitement, I hadn’t accounted for the fact that we were not moving to the Bay Area, nor were we moving to densely-populated Sonoma or Napa. The next leg of our journey was bringing us to Amador County, population 35,000, where there are easily more cows in the county than people (a good thing, I think).

While we searched for a home, we rented out the basement studio of a weekend house in Fiddletown (pop. 200), near where Bastien would be working. The drive into Fiddletown is simply idyllic: rolling hills, a gurgling brook down below, massive oak trees, grazing cows and horses and, at night, all the stars in the sky (no light pollution here!). The town itself, like many others around here, was a miner’s camp and trading post during the gold rush. Today, it retains hints of its past in the old blacksmith and wagon shop, the long-closed general store, the cowboy church (a saloon open only on Sundays for billiards and, I assume, beer), and a defunct (obviously) Chinese gambling hall. There is also a horse ranch, a tennis court, a post office and a community center/library, but no commerce remains on the quarter-mile strip of downtown Fiddletown.

Our studio dwelling, as it turned out, was a converted former brewery with marble floors, thick stone walls, and little daylight. What it lacked in comfort, it made up for in charm, funk and, get this, a pool table in our bedroom.

Bedside pool table

We spent 5 weeks eating with one fork and one spoon (which we alternated…okay, I mainly got the fork) at a massive wood door-turned-table, showering in a corrugated tin stall, and enjoying bedtime pool matches. We were grateful for a roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in, but camping out in a cavern eventually wore thin.

In the end, it was through word-of-mouth (not Craigslist, not Google, not even the Internet) that we found our new abode. A neighbor who had a friend who had a house…and voilà, presto! We went for a look one cloudy afternoon just before dark, and despite the grey, we were smitten with the little yellow farmhouse. Wood floors, old fixtures, a clawfoot tub, and a lot of light. What could be better? Plus an acre for gardening, fruit trees in the yard, horses next door, a crank telephone, and a wrap-around porch looking West to the hills. We were sold. And again we jumped for joy, as we now had a home.

At home in Drytown

At home in Drytown, mid-March

Chez nous, mid-April

Read Full Post »