Friday, October 15, 2010

Chez Les Barrauds

Catherine was the first friend I made when I moved to the North of France in 1995. We met while attending a meeting of the French-American Club; after talking for a while, we exchanged phone numbers, and I wasn't quite sure if she would call, or if I should call, but before I had the time to think about it much, Catherine called. She had passed some years of study in the States, and retained a love for the American culture. Maybe I could help her keep up her English?

Apart from English, we shared a love of art, psychology, and faith. We began a Bible study together, and passed several years discussing the great questions of the faith.

In 1996, Catherine met Fred, and I got to know him too as a great tease, a connoisseur of wine and good food, and an adept businessman. They visited me in the US when I was home on furlough in 1997, to ask me to be a witness of their marriage, which took place in 1998. I was speechless at the honor, but happily accepted.

And in 1998, I traveled to the family vacation home in Charentes, near Bordeaux, discovering that region with great delight. The wedding truly was magical and romantic, among the vineyards that produce some of the great wines of the region, and a specialty called Pineau de Charentes. I felt like I was in a movie most of the day. And this was the day before digital cameras, when almost all my film was lost in a developing error. But the memories are untouchable.

Now Catherine and I continue to plunge into conversations about art, psychology and faith, often during a long walk around whatever neighborhood they happen to be living in at the time. Fred and I discuss politics, economics, wine and the French culture. The kids ask me questions in English, and we watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark”; I read them stories at night.

Life is simple, if hectic with five kids, and I am grateful there is no TV in the house, no grand airs. Just good old-fashioned friendship, around a good walk, or a table of good food, with good conversation. Le Bonheur, quoi?!

Fifteen years, one husband, and five children later, Catherine remains a loyal and astonishing friend. How many women do you know who can raise five children, work, not be on Facebook, and still find the time to communicate with me on a regular basis?! Merci Catherine! Je t’embrasse! Et Fred, ben, merci pour les bonnes bouffes, les bons vins et astuces sur la culture francais, et tes blaques :) Bonne continuation avec le troupeau!

Off to the North I go...

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