The house stands on the high point of a vast prairie. To the south, the land slopes down steeply and the roof of a ruined cider house can just be seen. An apple orchard stretches to the south – it is long past its prime and the trees are stunted with age and bent by the incessant wind.
Two new buildings are nearby on the plain: a round tent with an exercise machine in it for horses, and a brand new aluminum barn with over forty boxes for thoroughbreds. A new track has been laid just west of the house, the orange sand like a raw wound in the deep green grass. Every morning the young horses are cantered along the track, their heads tossing, their tails whipping, their riders dressed in windbreakers and scarves.
The house was chilly and damp, so we loaded the car with firewood one rainy morning and piled it in the entranceway. From then on there was always a fire in the dining room chimney. I set up my computer next to it, we sat around it, and we grilled our dinners there: hamburgers, steaks, and one night we splurged and had salmon.
We went to the Basilica of St. Therese of Lisieux – just beautiful. And we visited a cheese factory in Livarot. It was really fun to see how the cheese was made and the best part of tasting it, of course. And we went to a zoo run by a conservation group called Cerza – and saw four white tigers – two of which were baby cubs. We saw lots of other animals, but these were so lovely we just stood and stared. A white tiger with blue eyes! The zookeeper told us that all white tigers are descended from a single white tiger born in captivity in 1952, and are all fragile because of their consanguinity.
It rained every day. The polo games were cancelled because the grounds were water-logged and sodden. Clouds as black as soot lumbered over the plain, and the wind whistled in the chimney like a locomotive. The twins took my old VCR camera and made a ghost movie using Julia as actress and victim, lol. They also played cards endlessly, as there was no TV or anything else.
We had dinner with friends, and on the next to last day, my daughter and I were invited to sing the Marsaillaise with the Lisieux choral group for the official ceremony of the liberation of Lisieux by the allied forces.
Tomorrow I’ll blog about that!