Last month, our ten year old daughter, who is in love with Louis IV and all of his trappings begged us to have a Royal dinner party in which everyone came dressed as royalty, gave themselves royal names, and ate in a royal fashion. Putting her off for longer than we would like to admit, we sat down one day and talked about what this dinner party would be like.
"Royal costumes! Everyone has to come dressed like some royalty. They can be a King, a Prince, a Duke, or a Countess. I am of course, Comtess Zoe-Pascale de Saxe Roux of Languedoc, Rousillion."
Now, being a tween she was also aware of the fact that some of her friends might think she was "uncool" and therefore wanted to invite family friends. At first we tried to dissuade her, but realized she had actually come up with a solution to the problem she felt (operative word, felt) she had which was not to be "uncool."
In her eloquent Franglais, she crafted the Royal invitation and sent it out to a few family friends asking them to RSVP with their titles and come appropriately dressed. To our surprise, all the invitees answered with hysterical messages that asked, "Where should we park the carriage and horses?" "Will there be water for the horses?"
Next weekend cancel everything. Make no plans. Be spontaneous. Do what comes naturally. Go with the weather. If it is sunny go to the beach. If it is rainy turn on the fireplace and drink hot chocolate.
This past weekend was one of the most relaxing and also somewhat productive weekends my family has had in along time. The secret, we planned nothing.
We woke up on Saturday, lazed around, read, had coffee, did a bit of gardening, a bit on the computer and had a nice leisurely lunch outside in the sunshine. By 2 pm, my daughter asked if we could go to the Halloween store to buy her a costume. She no longer wanted to be a princess but now that she was 10, she wanted to be a vampirette. Casually we drove on over and found the perfect costume for a decent price. Next door was Borders and all being lovers of books and bookstores, we all agreed "let's go.: Wandering the aisles and settling down to read a magazine or a book, we had some ice tea and just let the time slide by-- one hour-- two hours-- we had no where to go and no one waiting for us. By 6:30 we decided to head home and make dinner and slide again into a DVD, all cuddled up in bed together. Upon waking up on Sunday morning to a gorgeous crystal clear blue sky, I packed a picnic and we headed out to Stinson Beach for a long walk and a beautiful morning. A latte in hand, a Sunday paper tucked under our arms we drove over the Mountain to the beach. There is nothing like Stinson Beach on a sunny fall morning with a few people walking the two mile strand, dogs snapping at the water, and the water glistening like diamonds.
Halfway back, Zoe decides she needed to build a deep hole. No reason, no purpose, no destination, it just was what she felt like. Jean on all fours digging like a dog found himself immersed in enjoying the dig with her. An hour later we grabbed our picnic, chairs, and blanket and sat down to eat and read the paper. ---and so the day continued. It just flowed. Zoe wanted to see a friend and we called and picked her up 5 minutes later. (How often does that happen?) A quick play date (which now is evidentally called a date that she is ten). A quick stop at a friend's open house because it felt right, not because we were committed and the home for dinner and hanging out before bed.
Even in France you sometimes need to truly take a day off. It seems like we have been working hard since the Spring vacation finishing up some writing and Jean working diligently on his dissertation which is a life of its own. Plus end of the school year activities are added into the schedule with what seems like less and less free time. Now I know this is all relative as we do live at a leisurely pace, but a day off was needed.
I decided it was time for a mini vacation so we headed off for Marie St. La Mer and the Camargue where the original cowboy came from. The land of white horses and taureaux. Starting off we took a two hour horseback ride through the Camargue to see the etang and the flamingos close-up. Zoe-Pascale having taken a year's worth of poney lessons was confident on her tall white horse, one of the famous camarguais horses. Jean a bit timid loved his gentile horse and moved through the landscape slow and steady. Interstingly all the baby horses are born brown but turn white as they grow older and only the males are used for horseback riding.
Last Sunday we were invited to the Till Family's Grand Mas for a won
derful lunch and house warming. After five years searching for the perfect house they found it. Just on the edge of St. Quentin surrounded by one hectare of garden, fruit trees, grassy knolls and play areas sits a thousand year old farmhouse built with thick stone walls. Once an old farmhouse converted into a gite they are turning it back into a grand old family home adding a swimming pool and large living room with an old stone fireplace. By next year the house should be in Maison de Provence. In driving into their traditional French stone driveway you knew you were in for a treat. Luncheon tables were set up among the fruit trees or under a canopy set out on the lawn. A trampoline, a badminton court and soccer nets were placed around the garden for the kids as well as lots of jumping in the old stone pool.