I couldn't see much on arriving, as it was now dark in Balou, but after a quick dinner, I didn't want to see much more than the backs of my eyelids, from a horizontal position. There were three buildings on Balou--mine was the renovated garage on the highest part of the property, and Josy accompanied me up with a flashlight and tucked me in for the night. "Breakfast at 9!" she called out as she descended in the dark. I think I fell asleep before she got back to her cabin.
I woke to the sound of the cigales--French cousins of the hot bugs I love to hear in my native New York. I opened the window to see the mountain in the distance--Mount Moriah, Gilbert called it, where Abraham had sacrificed Isaac. Um...think Gilbert had his theology and his geography a bit tangled...
Breakfast at 9...I showered, flicked a slug off the bathroom sink to brush my teeth, then grabbed my camera to head down. The mountain air was brisk, although the forecast was hot and humid in the afternoon. It was too cool to eat outside - I found the Bouchers hunkered down in their tiny kitchen, toasting bread in a pan. An array of homemade jams lined the table, and the big breakfast bowl of tea sat on my plate.
Two hours, one pot of tea and massive quantities of French bread later, we arose and wobbled over to the phone to see about train tickets. No information was forthcoming, to no one's surprise, so we decided we'd stop in town at the station before some sightseeing. But first--lunch! Ah bon...it would only take an hour, Josy assured me, and shooed me out to take some pictures and keep Gilbert out of her hair.
The property was lovely, and Gilbert took me on the grand tour, practically naming every flower or fruit tree he had planted, pointing out the ruins of the chateau dating back to the Renaissance, pulling weeds, and plucking a few figs. He was dismayed at how damaged the long curving driveway was from recent rains. They'd have to get that smoothed out, and the landscaper in...he prattled on while I snapped photos and ooo'd and aaah'd over every little flash of beauty. "Oh yes, that's a good one," he would comment as I'd lean over some flower.
And then we were back at the table...this time for a full-on pork chop meal, with mashed potatoes and veggies, cheese and crackers, bread, nuts and local wine. A stunning rice/apricot cake filled any microspace left in our stomachs, after which we went into food shock and needed more than sightseeing...we needed a nap!