Monday, November 16, 2009

A Family Outing to the Ochre hills

Free weekends to do as I please. Time to spend with my boys and our friends. We spent this one making cookies at school for the Christmas fair in two weeks, at a glorious bon fire party at the home of an English friend, and hiking the hills below the majestic Mt Ventoux. Not bad, hm?

Stick me in a kitchen with recipes and ingredients and off I go. My task was chocolate sablets and walnut macaroons, plus shaping vanilla crescents. With many a fellow mother by my side the tasks went quickly and smoothly. And from my discreet nibbles, I can attest that the cookies will be wonderful!

The boys were in their element, taking over the school grounds, walking Filou, coming in to join us when they were simply too hungry to stay outside further. The weather has been balmy and warm. When it came time to depart the only thing that held us up was finding the discarded sweaters.

My English friend A has a knack for hosting parties that are great fun but not too much work. Truly she is gifted. The French tend to hold parties that require scrubbing their house top to toe and putting a great deal of stress into the perfection of the moment. Everything must be just so. As I gather from my French friends, they observe us, and have decided that it is more in the Anglo-Saxon temperament to simply enjoy having friends over. As such, A is a prime example. She skillfully designs events where others bring the food or alcohol, she provides the setting most wonderfully enhanced with candles, outdoor furniture and a signature theme: dancing on the terrace, a bonfire, marshmallows, etc., and we arrive and have a grand time. The pre-party prep is minimal, the clean-up after easy, kids are welcome or not depending on the event. The directives are clear. Our French friends are rather in awe of her relaxed demeanor throughout the event.

From sparklers and marshmallows to a cozy reception at my friend P's, and an outing à six the next day. Under the cherry trees we enjoyed our simple picnic of sandwiches, soup and cold Japanese somen noodles -- a major hit with their gomasio and special sauce --, followed by fruit and chocolate. In all directions were glorious fall vistas of yellow and red, the Mont Ventoux rose above our heads, and ochre hills were deep in the forest, there to climb and explore. We discussed everything under the sun: life, love, children, divorce, happiness, ambition, drive, goals, basic needs -- that's what women do, right? And our boys scrambled and loped, ran and jumped, slid and tumbled.

A most successful weekend.


Zuleme said...

Sounds lovely. What's your noodle sauce recipe? I make one with almond butter, ginger, molasses, garlic and five spice, hmm, some sesame oil and I think that's it.

Nathalie said...

Madeleine, I've just spent a long while catching up with the many posts I'd missed since my last visit. There's been a fair bit happening in your life from what I can gather. It's nice to see that you have good friends to fall back on when you need support and kindness.

I particularly enjoyed the beautiful photos of your morning walk on la Barthelasse. Aren't the views gorgeous?

Madeleine Vedel said...

Zuleme, I must confess to having a bottle of somen sauce from a Japanese friend on hand. Sorry! no personal recipe for that one. Though I'm sure that Elizabeth Andoh would have a good one.

Nathalie, thank you my dear, yes, life has been rather intense lately. I'm on the other side of it though, and revelling in newfound freedom, time, friends and my life in general. New doors are opening!