Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Home is my Cocoon.

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

I collected my boys Monday and returned to Avignon. Ahhhhhh. Granted, they hadn't bathed in 9 days (something I corrected as quickly as possible!), were charged up on super sugary cereals and all the latest Simpsons episodes, but what joy to have them with me again. I got them late morning and we were in Avignon in time for lunch. Having not been here for the duration of my time at the winery, I stopped by the island farm on the way home to pick up salad, peas, strawberries, apple juice, eggs and asparagus.

Once at the house, and minimally fed on pasta and a quick made sauce (see recipe in an earlier post) I went out to work in the yard. The grass had grown as high as an elephant's eye, or so it seemed. Leo eagerly stepped in to mow after I got the mower going. What a lovely feeling, both to be able to get my mower running (hey, I'm a girl, there are some mechanical things that often appear daunting at the outset, but are handleable with a bit of courage), and to have my big boy help out. With him mowing away I was able to start at my weeding, and to plant another climbing rose bush to join my other two in filling out the fence between myself and my neighbor and his horses.

As I weeded away I saw with pleasure that my lemon verbena is coming up again -- I'd not been certain it had weathered the winter, and those barren sticks that were all I'd seen till last week had me worried. I've already lost my fig tree, so I have reason to be a bit antsy. Of the dozens of peas I'd planted, only three have come up, but up they are, and so I'm pleased that sometime this spring I'll be able to go out and eat a couple right off the plant (kids in tow of course!). The strawberries have grown high off the ground, I suppose the buckets of water that poured down last week and the sunshine that has followed are the magical helpers for this.

It was one of those days the kids were as happy as myself to be here. "Oh if only Daddy could be here too and we could all four of us live here!" OK, at least they like the house. Right? There were moments when we first moved here when they were so out of sorts, missing the house that was home, missing Arles. They'd complain about being here, and I was hard put to be mellow with that sort of attitude. But this is passed. Now Avignon is their home, their world.

Leo helped with the laundry and shelling the peas, Jonas emptied the compost and hosed out the container. Leo and I then moved all the winter's remaining logs from the terrace wood pile to the far side of the yard under the cyprus trees. We covered them with plastic to keep the wood dry for next year. Then they both helped me clean the cast iron stove. Such busy bees!

Half-way through this afternoon of cheerful labor I made a batch of awesome brownies. I'm afraid I didn't measure too carefully... One bar of lindt dessert chocolate (so 200g), chunks of butter and palm oil (250g perhaps?) 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of rapadura sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 a cup of flour. Barely baked till cooked, i.e. the center was definitely still raw, I removed them from the oven and we ate them with glutinous greed, using fingers and spoons. Truly they were amongst the best I've ever made... hope I can re-create them.

It feels so good to be back here and with my boys. I forget how wonderful it is to be sandwiched cozily between them, reading, chatting, answering curious questions, reminding them to help out, thanking them. We all warm our toes under the covers, and squeeze into one of their beds, or mine. Leo is my chief helper in the house. At nearly 12 he can do most everything, and with a bit of nudging is mostly willing. Jonas is the one I can take with me anywhere, the quiet and publicly well-behaved child. A bag of crayons, paper, small scissors and a few match box cars and he's happy for hours.

The week has gone by almost too quickly. We've had friends over, been out to a meeting for me, had a day of the stomach flu (le gastro) for Jonas, downloaded a couple of films from ITunes to watch together, written emails, and enjoyed the small paths surrounding us -- roller blading to a friend's house, bicycling into Avignon to run some errands.

And again and again, I revel in how much I really enjoy their company, their differences, their desire to please and be with me.

Jonas, my little boy who once beheaded my tulips, is at my side awe in his eyes at the numbers of buds on the rose bushes, opening daily more and more. Our house is offering up gifts to us as spring explodes in all directions. I have a hard time believing I lived in the city for 13 years, no garden, no roses, and barely enough light for indoor plants. The windows are all open, the warm air blowing through the house, bringing light on the breeze.

Tomorrow two of my boarders come back, and Monday school starts up again. We're in a moment of calm, just the three of us (four if you count Filou), and how I treasure this.

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