Do you remember the old PBS series “A Year in Provence“? Lush and beautiful, bursting with eccentric French characters, and featuring a never-ending search for truffles, it was a guide to living life. To renovate an ancient farmhouse and gardens, eat simple food and wine, a couple left their high stress jobs in London and took a year off in Provence. One review says that it examines “life lived by seasons, not by days”.
That last statement suits me perfectly. And did in the late eighties when we were watching the series. Easy to do, I thought, if one was independently wealthy. How could you pursue all this elegant living and creating without money? The series on PBS was based on Peter’s Mayle’s experience, an erstwhile advertising executive of London who took a year “off”. Something else nagged at me. How would they ever go back to London?
From another review:
If Mayle had had his way, the description of A Year in Provence as fiction would have been spot on. “When we first moved to France [in 1987] I had the intention of writing a novel and had shared this great ambition with my agent, Abner Stein,” says Mayle. “But there was a problem: I found myself completely distracted – much more taken up with the curiosities of life in Provence than with getting down to work on the novel. The daily dose of education I was receiving at the hands of the plumber, the farmer next door, the mushroom hunter and the lady with the frustrated donkey was infinitely more fascinating than anything I could invent.” And so a travel book was born.
It makes me wonder if we (the educated, the observers, the type A personalities) have it at all correct. Mayle’s book challenges us.
Strangely, minus the exotic location, we are pursuing the same goals (except for the cooking food part) to create, be outdoors, love the simple, enjoy the work. And, as always, get stuff for free or little money to achieve our goals. And as Peter Mayle enjoyed his neighbors and substituted simple goals for the more abstract, so have we.
Yesterday was cinder block day. We took what we needed from a friend whose job it is to tear down buildings. The cinder blocks would cost him money to place in the dump. We needed a floor for our silo, which is ready to be moved to house our pool pump. Done and done.
A huge tree had to be removed to facilitate this move for the silo. Glenn and I took care of most of it, and then a pro, who we have been trading firewood for labor for years, came in to finish the job. He asked for 75.00 and settled for nothing. He wanted the fresh oak wood. Win/win.
Last week it was bricks. Broken bricks are free, whole bricks at a very good price.
These bricks we will add to those in front of the barn. Starting today.
The longer that we live inside our monthly earnings, the more we have to use for travel. Like to Provence.