Oh my goodness! This post was absolutely supposed to go up yesterday but, oh you know how holidays go, things are never entirely on schedule, are they?
For you see, I decided to cook! I don't always on the third Thursday of November. Yesterday was, of course, just a regular day here in France. But oh, how Thanksgiving lives on in my heart. With time, it has become one of my very favorite holidays as I learn and relearn the importance of gratitude.
On Wednesday night, I will admit it, I was feeling verrry sorry for myself. It happens every year. Somehow the anticipation of the fête, that longing to be with my family in the States just pulls and tears while I read my fellow blogger's posts of cooking emergencies and travel woe. Most exceptionally, this year has been the month-long run-up of the preparations (ending with his locking his Mom under "sweat shop" conditions until she finished her annual tablecloth) by my extremely witty friend, Stephen Andrew Jones. I know that today of all days, you may not want to have anything in the least bit to do with Thanksgiving but if you are in need of a laugh by all means go and visit him: here.
For not only does he set a serious table, he is also a kind soul who did not judge my grating "oh woe is me" but understood it and sent me "in the trenches" photos of his final stages before his phenomenal feast, the last one dating to 2am his time. It cheered me immensely. As has my friend Ellie's determination to make her first Thanksgiving in Provence a great one. Easier said than done in these parts and she wisely (as SAJ phrased it) brought cranberries down from the far more cosmopolitan Paris "in her purse."
While these two wonderful people inspired me, finally I cooked...for me. This post could actually have been titled Cooking for Yourself, part three (to view the previous two posts see here and here) and I have to say that it was the single best gift that I have given myself in a long time. Alas, turkey is still not in the shops yet so a poulet jaune fermier Label Rouge (aka fantastic free-range chicken that cannot have any scary hormones or additives in it - let alone be a clone - thanks to the excellent European Union health rules - yay!) had to stand in its stead (and honestly, as there was just the two of us it was a wiser option anyway). I already had enough to make the rest of the basics to go with it at hand - butternut squash soup, dressing, garlic mashed sweet potatoes...what? "Please stop talking about food," you say? Ok, done.
I took my time cooking, spending all afternoon chopping and sipping Chardonnay as Thanksgiving law requires. In doing those same repetitive motions that I knew that my Mom would be going through hours later, I felt nearly as connected to her and the rest of my family in the States as if I had been there all while preparing a nice surprise for my family here ("Wow, what are you doooiing?" Remi asked at one point and yes, the puppers got chicken broth on their dinner. Ben looked astonished).
And in slow going, I had plenty of opportunities for reflection. You all were frequently in my thoughts and if I am rambling on in a post tryptophan-induced haziness, it is only out of willing to (finally coming to the point) express an extreme gratitude for all of the kindness and support that you have given, which honestly, has helped to sustain me through what has been a fairly challenging year for us. Bring on 2016! I know it is just around the bend now, isn't it? Until then, un grand merci. The best of me bows down to the best of you. Namaste.
Along with my friends and my wonderful family, they are plenty of other things that I am extremely grateful for.
This has been the Year of the Garden, a huge discovery that opened up a whole new way of working (eh, oui), being and eating for Remi and I. And the good news is that just after we put our main plot to rest, our friend W offered to split half of another parcel with us! It was back breaking work and we were in a rush to get it ready for winter before the first freeze. We barely made it, working into the dark two nights in a row. Above, you can see the "after" of our plot on the right and the sorry "before" of another gardener who has left his sit unused on the left! We are hoping he will have a change of heart and pass it our way come Spring...
I am also extremely grateful for the many fabulous brocantes in Provence and the bliss Remi and I feel while strolling and examining the treasures and stranger items...a-hem. They are an insta-gateway to pure happiness for me.
I am grateful for the smell of old books and for music that is so powerful that it makes me weep with joy...or get up out behind my desk to dance because no-one is looking, that is unless you count...
I am grateful for our boys.
As I wrote recently, Ben makes it a personal mission to make me laugh out loud everyday, most frequently with his "oh, this old thing?" shenanigans involving a stick. You can't see it but he has an eyebrow cocked here, he does.
And Kipling, our rascal, is still teaching me not only patience but that sometimes it can take years to earn a trust that has been broken...but that it is possible nonetheless. He gives me little signs of encouragement and I listen to them. Nearly three years in to our adopting him, he will occasionally play with me and gnaw on my wrist gently. He is still learning what play is and that it is not only ok but good.
I could go on - and often do! - but I will just add that I am so very grateful for the beauty of Provence.
It has been a rough past few weeks for most of us and I have found enormous comfort in the surrounding landscape during moments when nothing else made any sense to me at all. It reminds me, everyday, that Beauty and Love will continue to rule. And that is enough alone to make giving thanks just part of the daily routine.
PS. Now, that I am not a fan of Black Friday is an understatement. I always cringe each year when they show the segment on the French news of crazed US shoppers pushing and shoving each other to be the first to get that giant screen tv on sale at midnight after such an important day. And now, the powers that be are even trying to introduce the concept to France. While in Avignon today, I saw signs in shops for "Crazy Friday" - whaaat? No, come on, that is just wrong.
BUT. I have to make an exception for my above-mentioned friend, Ellie, who now also happens to be practically my neighbor. Am I slightly flabbergasted that she managed to score 35 incredible items in her very first weekend while living in Provence for her monthly online sale? I am. Seriously, she found more in TWO DAYS than I have in ten years. Or, that she has been secretly making a collaboration for a special collection of gorgeous blue and white lamps, vases and pots? Um, yep. But not so much that I won't give you the link to it. ;)
You can find Ellie's blog here.
And to access the sale directly, click here.
But don't delay if you are interested as her peeps literally set their clocks to the start of each sale.
I am looking forward to hopefully steering Lost in Arles back to more solid ground subjects but am really appreciative of the huge outpouring of kindness that you all have shown. For what it is worth, I have told so many people in this little village about you all and I know that they were moved.
Plus, I have a fun series for the holidays coming up that I have been saving, so please stay tuned...
For my American readers, did you have a good Thanksgiving?
And for my friends elsewhere in the world, what is your favorite holiday?
Enquiring minds want to know!