When I’m not at the Clocktower Cottage I spend a lot of time thinking about what it feels like to be in Duras. There’s a peacefulness to small village living that can only be explained by being there.
I can envision myself on the loveseat in the reading nook under the curved staircase, a glass of rosé in one hand, the ipad balanced on my lap and yesterday’s Nightly News with Lester Holt streaming my nightly touch of Americana.
When I am there Duras is home and I exist in a state of domestic euphoria. I need little to amuse me. In the fridge there must be coffee-flavored sheep’s milk yogurt, a bottle of the local rosé and some tiny wheels of fresh goat cheese from the outdoor markets.
I amuse myself with long walks around the village–behind the chateau, down to the supermarket, along the path to the farm where four lovely donkeys stand in a perfect row to be petted. I bring them apples and we have a mutual admiration fest some afternoons.
When I require something to provision the house, I walk to the butcher. There I hope to be allowed to stand for awhile and just admire the meats and charcuterie with my eyes before the efficient clerk asks me for my order. I peek in the window first and make certain that other customers are there to keep the butcher occupied so I can ogle uninterrupted. With a big bald head and bloody apron he appears menacing, but he is the neighborhood rock star and often has a shop full of women and a street full of local dogs–all with their noses in the air taking in the scent of the raw and gleaming meats. It is thrilling to be there.
I go next to the bakery where cubbies of loaves in all shapes have confusing names. I know baguette and pain cereale, which is the whole grain loaf, and I alternate between them so the shop girl won’t think I’m in a rut. I pay my 60 or 85 centimes for a loaf–a whole freshly made loaf–and I wander the lanes slowly so I can enjoy the pleasure of ripping the end off and eating it on the way home. When one of the local dogs follows me I give him a hunk too.
Later I may run the washing machine. I love the unusual clothes drying rack that is suspended from the utility room ceiling and operates by hoisting it up and down with a pulley and rope. It’s so clever and works so well I do laundry every couple of days just to use it.
I am often asked how I spend my time in France and before I can answer I can see their hopeful expressions wanting romantic stories about places like grand cathedrals, the Moulin Rouge, or smoky bars pouring shots of absinthe. When I am being truly honest I tell them I wander the streets eating bread, peek in windows to admire raw meat, feed apples to donkeys, do laundry, drink wine and snuggle soundly under my down comforter at night. It’s a beautiful life.