Day 2- Saturday- dawned cold and clear, though the sun would be yet to rise as I awoke to see the humans on the road to their vacation. As they headed off to the airport to see family and friends Scamp, Buster and the neighbor dog Floc and I headed out into the woods and through the fields for a morning romp. I was ever so grateful to have worn my heavy wool coat, scarf and gloves- though it seemed a bit much on the airplane.
The dogs pretty much walked me as opposed to me walking them. They are not on a lead, they just head off when I start walking. They are free to go romp around on their own, but they do not unless someone goes with them. Amazing. Now and then they would turn around as if to ask “Is this way O.K.?” to which I would reply “O.K. then, let’s go!” And off they would run in whatever direction was in question. They have worn trails in the fields and trees and know their favorite adventures, though from their pure joy you would think this outing is the first. They are all wide eyed, tongues hanging as they run and race and roll happily in anything.
As we passed into a lower plowed field a small group of deer bound through the trees on the opposite field edge. The dogs took no note. I was on the lookout for wild boar, as that is my worry. They are known to be aggressive and I don’t want to surprise one. I see a few very large burrow holes in the soft soil here and there, and I wonder if that is boar? I don’t know, but whatever makes that large burrow I don’t want to meet!
The weather is bright and sunny but frosty cold- with a layer of frost remaining on the grass and shrubs. It is really frigid and despite my warm clothing and boots, by eyes water from the cold wind. After a long walk up the other side of the valley and back we make our way back home and all the animals enjoy breakfast as is their normal routine. Floc gets some too.
The morning walk was refreshing but since jet lag was still with me, I had a nice 3 hour long nap as did the dogs. Buster inside and Scamp outside as is the normal pattern. Lady Edith the cat came pawing at the bedroom window to be let in.
It was a slow lazy day for all of us. Thankfully the afternoon walk at 5pm gave us all a renewed sense of energy. This time we were off to the church yard and beyond, stopping to drink water from the flower pots there. The church dates from the early days of the chateau and hameau* and is no longer in service, but the few graves are recent inhabitants and are generally well attended with flowers and headstones. We saw another human- the first in 2 days- working in the field in the distance.
Dinner was delicious potato and Leek Soup and wine by the fire. (It’s been a few years since I had to keep a fire to stay warm, but the heat is lovely. I hope my fire making skills turn out to be better than they were as a kid). I lulled my brain cells to sleep by watching French television.Nothing like crime-drama to make you realize how little French language you know.
Day#3- Much the same, though wind is the order of the day. It is warmer and the morning walk is marked by wind, which the animals enjoy. I’ve started a fire upon my return to keep the chill off today. The humans have kindly chopped enough wood for my stay and stacked it nicely in the wood shed, and there is a large amount of kindling. I only have to take the wheel barrow out of the attached garage/barn and around to the side of the house to fill it up as needed. Each morning I take out the ash out of the stove, and wash the glass window with water and ash- which is remarkably effective. I venture into the nearest large village of Condom for groceries though I have forgotten it is Sunday. The village is nearly all closed except a produce market, luckily, where I find fresh French bread and croissants! There is a small local store open for 3 hours and I buy coffee to stave off a caffeine headache- that takes the rest of the afternoon to defeat. The wind storm continues and I’ve closed the shutters so they don’t bang against the house all day. Shutters are functional here, not merely decorative though they are that as well.
I did come across a charming old fortified village on the way home, but the fierce wind drove me back into the car. I will have to be another day.
*The Château de Balarin was constructed at the end of the 13th century on the frontier of what was then English territory. It underwent substantial modification at the end of the 15th century to make it habitable, most importantly, the addition of windows and a circular tower. Now ruined, it has been a protected monument historique since 1942. ( 43°57′53″N 0°15′2″E) Wikepedia. There has since been a modern chateau constructed and is privately owned. Test your French language and see this web page for more information: http://www.lemondededartagnan.fr/SITE/FRA/gascons_balarin.htm