Evening in a quiet village

villageThrough a quiet village with a black dog sitting by the church. I turn into a large gravel courtyard, with farm house and many outbuildings (dépendances). A tiny, feisty woman in turquoise with a tangle of straw coloured hair comes out to greet me. My room is up a narrow wooden staircase and down the end of the wooden passage, squeezed under the eaves of one of the outbuildings. She tells me the nearest restaurant is a few kilometres away – but she can prepare an omelette for me if I prefer. Her offer is accepted. When I came down into her kitchen ten minutes later she said, “ Oh, I’ ve noticed I have no more eggs! Since my brother died I don’t eat much for myself.” She said she had been born and lived all her life on the farm, but at 80 years old it was getting too much to run 18 rooms and two Gites.

She opened a tin of pasty white Quenelles in tomato sauce which she served with some dry rye bread. A yoghurt and some home-made vanilla ice cream followed. She poured me a glass of rosé and one for herself: “Tenez, je vais trinquer avec vous.” She sat down at the table and chinked her glass on mine. Madame had been the youngest child with four brothers who had her jumping off hay carts and out of trees at a very early age. Her secret of good health, she said, had been to run everywhere. “I was educated chez les Bonnes Soeurs and one of the nuns used to make us run races “a quatre pates”, on all fours. I was still so fast that that nun made me do it again, she thought she had mistimed me!” After supper I walked around the village before bed, but slept fitfully – the building creaking as it cooled from the hot day, a cat suddenly miaowling making my heart leap.

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