Sunday, November 1, 2009

... chestnuts roasting in a big oil drum...

Chestnut festivities

My last few days in France were mild, comfortable, and relaxing. I was integrated into the farm, I could work in the garden with very little guidance, I'd made friends with each and every rabbit even after they saw me "eliminating" their friends, and Jacqueline and Gerolf had adopted me into their rhythms. So it was a bit tough to leave; I'm particularly attached to routine. But we had a bit of fun before I took my train north to Belgium.

Rotating the chestnut spit

On a particularly glorious autumn weekend Gerolf and I packed some beers into the van and drove a bit south to a pretty little village they call Villefranche-du-Perigord, where a chestnut festival was underway. Chestnuts found their way into everything, from Gerolf's beer to conserves to sausages, and especially into my mouth. Above two open fire pits swiveled mesh metal drums filled with roasting chestnuts. The next booth over was pressing fresh apples for cider. The night before the festival I spent the night some 12 miles out of town and decided I would run to the event in the morning. My knees and calves ached as I stumbled into Villefranche, but life was good as soon as I got my grubby hands on some sweet, steaming chestnuts and a big bottle of tart cider. I spent the rest of the day in a chestnut coma, watching the crowd ebb and flow while we all soaked up the warm sun on such a crisp day. Some hurdy-gurdy and accordian music, traditional French dancers in fluffy garb, and a good-hearted but competitive chestnut-spitting contest wrapped up the weekend. Oh, and of course there was the 6-foot cepe de Bordeaux omelette.

A woodworker turns a top on his lathe

It was time to say goodbye to the farm, though, so I drank one last Laubicherie beer, the one brewed with truffles, and headed up to Belgium, Brussels to be precise, for a week of sightseeing, reuniting, and couchsurfing.

Fresh cider!

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