This week, fires have been roaring in our fireplace (and have ravaged San Diego and 6 other California counties at home).  It was zero degrees C (32 F) this morning in the car.   The frost was on the grass, and the mists rose slowly from the ground as it heated up.   In California , it has been hot, windy and dry.  Our thoughts turned to home (as opposed to our home away from home that is Monsalut).  And to our friends, their lives, their houses, and ours.  We asked them what they took with them as they evacuated.  We made our own list.

This week, we have gone through the motions of normal everyday life here, even as we have been seeing San Diego burn on CNN.  Monday:  laundry and picking up Steve’s medications at the pharmacy.  Tuesday Josiane came and administered our flu shots, then we took her and Dominique to Le Pistou for lunch.  Every year, we commemorate her discovering Steve’s pulse was dangerously low in 2003, leading to the pacemaker operation here.

Wednesday, Mrs. Goberville, Maurice and Fred came for aperitifs.  They had found Gail’s wallet and returned it 10 years ago now.  Our political views diverge radically, and we have difficulty admiring Fred, who would rather collect the minimum government payment of 435 euros a month (and do nothing), or Maurice, who is under 50 but “tired”, jaded and whose favorite phrase is “the problem is”,  Only Mrs. Goberville, at 80, floats above all the whining and complaining, to say “Vive l’Amerique”, when Steve tells her “Vive la France,”

Thursday was interesting.  The daughter in law of the mail carrier invited us to lunch an hour and a half drive south in St. Paul les Dax.  The N10 was choked with truck traffic to Spain , with lanes cordoned off for repairs.  The GPS got us to within a few hundred yards of Jennifer and Francois’ apartment.  They are two serious young people beginning their life together.  Her teaching job is now solid, but Francois must wait until January, 2008 to know if his short-term contract will be turned into a life-time offer.  He enthusiastically showed us samples of paneling, flooring, and exterior trim.  He’s put together the website for the wood industry here, as well as booklets and books.  The forest covering 1 million square km is the largest in Europe , and has 3 industries – chemicals, paper and wood planks and products.  They talk about buying a piece of land and building their own house (out of wood, naturally).  We strolled around Dax’s hot springs pampering palaces (3 weeks paid for by the French government on doctors’ prescriptions), the bullfighting arena, and the bridges over the Adour .

Now, it’s the end of our trip, and we thankfully will have a house to come home to.  Yet, if this place weren’t already rented for the Toussaint holiday week, we probably want to stay, to get out of the polluted San Diego air.  San Diego is home, but this is also home.  It’s a comfortable, beautiful place.  We don’t need to own it to enjoy it.

This weekend we’ll be over at Jean-Paul and Rachel’s house, then home late Monday, Oct. 29.

Claudia and Steve
10/29/07

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