(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

je suis une champignonniere!

Today I went mushroom hunting with my neighbor and friend, Nicole.  She is a champion of the forest, a veritable ange des champignons, could it have anything to do with being named Dubois?  she adores her precious Perigord region and until today, seemed reticent to bring me along to her secret places...but invite me she did and I jumped at the chance.

I have been a few times before with groups, never being any good at it but enjoying the walk.  Today, it rained softly and the first hour or more, we found zilch.  We were on our third location when we struck gold.

Nicole had found three or four cèpes, and was decidedly downcast.  Me, I found lots of inedible stuff that had to be put back.  But now, after a few outings, I am confident in this variety ... cèpes, of the boletus family, a cousin to porcinis so I am told. 

Finally! I spotted a corner of a mushroom hiding under a branch.  A big cèpe noir, a luscious dark brown cap (or chapeau), firm and enormous stem ... entirely edible.  I had stumbled upon a grove, it seemed! Suddenly we were discovering them left and right.  Big and small.  They are clever, these fungi, hiding themselves under grass and leaves, camouflaged well.  We estimate our hall at about ten kilos of mushrooms!!!  check the prices out on those babies and you will see why we were reluctant to depart.

Now, I am gently sautéeing them in only olive oil, after which they will be frozen for winter. 

Day by day, I am trying to recover that woman that tossed everything to the wind to come here ... and also to recover those experiences that made it all worthwhile! like mushroom hunting.  doing my own small winter projects.  Improving my french.  expanding my ring of friends.

I have been lost, struck hard by financial uncertainty and trying not to lose it all! my zest, my foothold here, my adoration of this feisty land and her citizens.  nothing that has happened to me is france's fault ... thankfully!  no, the reality is that France keeps trying to save me.  And she is succeeding, along with my help.

As I wandered in the woods today, I thought about the time when mankind here relied on such activities for survival.  I wonder if they took pleasure in the act itself or when turning up empty handed, returned to their living spaces stressed and concerned?  for surely, they were like the squirrels preparing for the cold winter.  No Carrefours were around to ensure full larders.  They of course planted and reaped, bartered and sold and bought in the village open markets.  and they foraged, and found ways to preserve and store their precious foodstuffs without electricity's helping hand.  Life was without doubt precarious and yet, I can also imagine the pleasure of being in their land, their woods, observing all that nature could provide or would in coming seasons.

Today, we not only had a bounty of lovely cèpes, the forest floor was littered with hazelnuts and chestnuts.  we could see the beds of coming girolles in spring.  the ground was a veritable natural compost layer in action, rich earthy springy goodness.

what a delightful day.... I'm beginning to remember those again.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

a long cold winter.

I've reopened my blog. I have had much to say and nothing to say... I shut it down because I had laryngitis of my writing voice.

Unlike many blogs I have read, I began my blog filled with excitement and hope and optimism about my coming adventure. Writing about my experiences, sharing the ride brought me great joy.

I struggled writing in the last year because I was struggling in life. I know I probably could have written a lot about all my challenges and received positive words of support. I have even, from time to time, written about a down point here and there. But when it came to the point where it seemed in staring at my keyboard, I could find nothing but personal turmoil and difficulty, I could only shut down for a pause.

At some point I may share some of the challenges which I think might relate to someone considering making such a leap as mind ... I might be able to give some tips to manage or overcome potential hazards.

Suffice it to say, sometimes we become so wrapped up in the stress and problem of the moment, it is hard to step back and look at the bigger picture ... it can become a matter of digging in to find make it through each day.

This blog of mine has always been a pretty open and transparent lens into my life. When I felt the only view I could give was through a strong filter, I decided just to cap the lens for awhile.

I hope to be able to get back into my groove here, write more and move to the next chapter. Not only has writing here given me great pleasure ... I have made some great friends and acquaintances simply from this site. I would hate to lose that future possibility.

à bientôt!