Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Day in Provence

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

The sun is streaming through my kitchen window. The kids are off to school, and my wine book translation is awaiting my attention.  Filou, my faithful poodle/bichon mutt is calm at my feet, and the wood burning stove is sending out warmth and reassurance.  A proper "foyer" or hearth and home.

Living in Provence as an American is marvelous, frustrating, exciting, disorienting and enriching. I've lived here now for nearly 15 years. I first came to France as a five year old with my parents, both francophiles, and visited again at ten with my mother and brother, then at 16 on my own, with strict marching orders to get my French up to speed. And, when I had my own funds from working at a Chinese restaurant every weekend through high school, I returned with a girl friend to tour all over Europe by Eurail Pass.

I then proceeded to study Japanese in college, taking French classes only intermittently as a relief to the brutal difficulty of mastering kanji.  It wasn't till after a year in Japan, when I was 27, that I decided to come back to France to go to graduate school.  I felt, having achieved the impossible of speaking Japanese fluently, I needed to get my French back up to speed.  So why not graduate school in Paris? I loved the arts, and photography in particular, so, to Paris I went.

Part-way through my schooling I came to Arles to work as an intern with the annual photo festival, Les Rencontres de la Photographie. I met Erick Vedel, a local chef, and decided to stay.  We then proceeded to get married, start the cooking school, have one child, start the bed and breakfast, have a second child, and work like crazy, but joyfully, building the businesses into bustling and busy activities.

However, as can happen in this world, what seemed lovely from the outside, had a few dents and cracks on the inside.  I opted to leave the marriage, and thus the bed and breakfast behind me.  I am now in a house of my own in Avignon, with my two boys Leo and Jonas, now eleven and seven years' old. I am reinventing myself as a tour guide specializing in culinary and wine destinations -- a specialty I've concentrated my energies on now for over 13 years.  

I am also in a new relationship, with an organic vintner who loves to tango. Literally! So, my oenological knowledge is being enriched by living through the seasons of a winery, and my dance skills (always a passion for me) are being honed by weekly classes, and periodic intensive weekends.

The world economy is making life that much more interesting. But, hey, what would life be without a few bumps in the road?

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