Bourdon Patate Douce
So our mystery vacation was to Provence, in the south of France. Landisdad’s mom, who has been responsible for our last four trips out of the country, outdid herself this time–it was even better than when she got us a count’s apartment in Rome. She rented a six-bedroom mas with a pool, terraced gardens, and an honest-to-goodness olive grove.
We ate a great deal of excellent food, including an almost-incredible amount of chocolate. My only previous trip to France was to Paris, and I confess, I don’t remember having chocolate with every meal there, but I think that the south of France is (in the words of the Bee) “crazy about chocolate.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There was a daily intake of wine that may have greatly endangered my liver. The Potato also developed a fondness for citron presse, although that probably didn’t damage his liver at all.
There were daily trips into various parts of the countryside, including a 12th-century abbey, and some nifty stone huts that have been continuously occupied for 3,000 years. The kids climbed around on the rocks at the Pont du Gard (that blue dot in the picture is the Bee)–the Potato was a little worried that she might not come back, so he shouted for her. We wandered through the local farmer’s market, and the kids held up the doors of a building with some statues. We also visited an ancient Roman ampitheatre, a fishing village on the Mediterranean, and the Palais de Papes in Avignon. The kids both developed a fascination with the various knights in armor that were featured at various gift shops. (Here, the Bee models the shield and sword of a gladiator.)
In addition, the kids got to swim every day. The Bee spent hours practicing her underwater handstand, which is a recent obsession. She wants her legs to be straight up and down, like mine, because, “yours are like a sixteenth of an inch not-straight.” The Potato ventured out into the deep end at every opportunity, wearing his swimmy vest.
The nights were light so long–the kids stayed up until about 10 every night. After dinner, they’d wander around the garden making stew in a garden pot, mixing together stones and flowers and sticks, being on their best behavior to avoid going to bed while it was still light out. Our stick collection was impressive, although we did convince the kids to leave the sticks in France. Fortunately, the late evenings led to some late-morning sleeping on the part of the Potato–we slept until 8 every morning.
And best of all, there was no drama. Of course there were moments of minor annoyance, but overall the trip–including the two ridiculously long travel days–was fabulous. I’m sure that we won’t all remember the same things–the Potato, for example, may remember this bus trip longer than anything else–but we will remember the love and good feelings for a long time, and that’s what’s really important.