My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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alone and full

Today has been perhaps my last time alone in the Gordes house. After work today Denis will go to Avignon to wait for Lynn to arrive, late, by train from Lille. It’s her 60th birthday tomorrow and we’re glad she’s coming home, briefly, to celebrate. Elisa has gone on her Mobylette to Marseilles, overnight, to visit friends, so it’s just me for now in the old homestead. I have been taking full advantage to do absolutely nothing except tap on the computer – work and email.

No, I stopped for lunch – five different kinds of cheese – a quick swim, to do some laundry and later dinner, a salad with MANY DIFFERENT THINGS IN IT, contrary to Denis’s rule of one taste at a time. And I ate at 6.30, and without any particular order, in a kind of joyful Canadian jumble, because there were no French people here to marvel at my barbarian folly. I love their rules for meals, great to watch and to learn, and occasionally, it’s great that they go away and I can eat howsoever I bloody well want, with no rules at all. Vive le Canada libre.

I read my manuscript today – over 100 single spaced pages, a salad of many different things. It needs a phenomenal amount of work, the barest beginning – but it’s a beginning. There’s a story there. There’s a there there. Wayson sent me a YouTube video today of hummingbirds being born, growing feathers and flying away. My manuscript is wet and downy, right now. But there is the possibility of flight.
I hung the laundry on the line an hour ago, and it’s dry. Between the mistral, which continues strong, and the sun, moisture doesn’t have a chance.
So here I am in what is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, in one of the most beautiful areas of France with a free car at my disposal, and I spent the entire day sitting on the terrace tapping, eating cheese and doing laundry, in the greatest bliss. This kind of silence and solitude is worth a fortune in cars, quaint villages and panoramic views. I had no desire to move one step from the premises. I’ll have to tomorrow, because I’ve ordered a cake for my friend’s birthday; the bakery is in a village near here but tomorrow the baker is at the market in Bonnieux, so I must pick up the cake from there. That’ll be a real trial, to drive through Provence to a picturesque village market, to buy what sounded like – I hope I got it right – a chocolate cake with macaroons. Something like that. I’ll find out tomorrow in Bonnieux.
I’ve also prepared a little writer’s gift for Lynn – from a stack of her letters to me through the years, I’ve transcribed what I think are the best bits into a 12-page document. I hope her kids will enjoy reading it – as she writes, you see them growing up, the different concerns and triumphs, her own journey. It begins in 1970 when we were still at university and ends with emails to and from Gordes a few days ago. Testament to a friendship which has endured not only many years, but thousands of miles of separation, and is stronger today than ever.
Speaking of old and dear friends, Chris has just arrived home in Vancouver from France and is disconsolate. He hates speaking English, he hates the agribusiness food, he wants fresh produce from the local market and he wants to come back to France. Enjoy every minute, he says, because you’ll have a hard time on re-entry. I’ve been moaning about homesickness, but I’ll be home soon enough. Apparently this is a cold, damp summer in Ontario. All the more reason to celebrate the hard, dry heat and wind of Provence. I will try not to complain, even about the bugs. (Found a kind of solution – periodically I spray the window sill and shutters with insecticide. Perhaps they’ll think twice now about invading my space, those many-legged critters. Or perhaps not.)
And about new and dear friends – Penny responded on-line to yesterday’s blog about Michael Jackson, and also sent me a long email. I have written back to apologise to her, because I realise I’ve been judgemental about him without the slightest proof, and in fact, knowing almost nothing about the facts or the personalities. One day, I will learn to shut up when I don’t know what I’m talking about. In the meantime, luckily, there are people to correct me.
One more word – about radishes. Radishes, you say? What can there possibly be to say about radishes? Well, our radishes are good, round, fat. But French radishes are enlongated, and they are, need I say it, delicious. Peppery, tingly, delicious. Even the humble radish, in this complex country, is superb. We need to work on our radishes.
Four more hours of peaceful solitude. Time to eat some chocolate. Maybe I’ll watch a bit of Jon Stewart on the Net. Do some weeding. Go for another swim. Finish reading Le Monde and tackle one of the 500 great books in my friends’ library. Do a bit more work. I’m overwhelmed.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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