It’s so damned lovely here.

The last few nights we’ve slept upstairs on the open deck so see stars above us, hear the river below us, and the birdsong and chirping crickets all around. It is serene, and it is beautiful. In the mornings the dawn chorus is simply huge. It’s like being awakened by the Anvil Chorus every morning, but sung by ten thousand beautiful, happy, hungry, enchanting birds.

When the sun rises over the trees, the day goes from “just about perfect beneath a loose duvet” to “amazing lying on top of a warm duvet”.

As I sit here writing this now in the cool of the evening, the bluetits are still racing to feed their young in the nest in the rafters behind me, swooping through the beams to leave the hanger with a speed and prowess to match any escaping Jedi.

In the last few days we have herded and sheared sheep,

had our weekly visit from the butcher, an archetype of French conviviality and happiness, who tosses out bones to the dogs whenever he pulls up,

drunk a homebrewed eau-de-vie made from nuts, put a roof on a barn (tip of the day, in case you didn’t know this one already: use superglue to fix cuts, especially deep ones which would otherwise require stitching. It’s great. 3 days later my ankle, which I cut to the shin about 2″ long, is in tip-top shape), seen new born lambs, ducks (update: An evil duck has eaten some of the baby ducks. Who knew ducks would do that?) , and puppies,

eaten another magnificent meal with Marie-Claude and Jojo – fried duck this time, had a picnic at the top of the world,

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IurARyozEN4

made edlerflower cordial, learned how to bend and make animals collars from strips of ash, picked wild strawberries,

eaten some of our early peas, eaten our own strawberries, picked cherries from a neighbours tree, related tales of falling off mountains over evening pastis,

made soup, boiled the kettle, heated a room, and germinated seeds in one go,

learned how to earth up potatoes with a horse from our neighbours who do this on a field down the road in Chein Dessus,

had a barbecue with our families who came to stay, which was rather lovely,

been to whichever of our many local markets (one every day of the week, somewhere less than 25 minutes away),

leapt for joy,

and many many more wonderful experiences.

You only have to turn around or look up to be overwhelmed by the wonder of life here. Pause for even a second and you will hear birdsong, cowbells, bleating lambs, the river churning away, smell the kiwi fruit or the honeyed orange of the philadelphus, see ten thousand shades of green, savour the skills of the paysan craftsmen who worked the wood of this barn, see the balancing and distribution of energy as the clouds drift over the valley, the power of nature embodied by the mountain pushed up by Spain inching northward …

We are so lucky to be able to live this blended life wherein we can both go “to the woods to live deliberately, and suck the very marrow out of life” and still pick a rich harvest from global culture and stay in touch with all of you.

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