|Jard sur Mer, Vendee, France|
Jard sur Mer, Garden on the Sea, and we are there together. We will eat oysters plucked right from the sea and mussels bathed in garlic, butter and white wine, a baguette for each of us to soak up the briny, luscious liquid. In the morning, before our afternoon feast, we will walk to town together from our home, Villa des Lutins (Home of the Elves), to le boulanger to purchase the baguettes, warm and fragrant from the ovens, and as long as sabers so that we will have a sword fight with them on our return home. They may drop on the ground, but we just flick off the dust and pretend that nothing happened. It is an imaginary sword fight after all!
After our lunch under the pines, we will bike a la plage (to the beach), with towels and sunscreen and a bit of refreshment, cheese and croutons from the baguettes, in the baskets. The beach is a bit stony, not like the smooth sugar sand of the Del Coronado or the coarser black sand of Kona Village, but it lends us a beautiful easterly view of the ocean, one we are not used to seeing from California. A friend may offer us a ride in his petit bateau but for the most part we float in the water, dry on the shore and relish the hot sun on our bodies.
We celebrate Bastille Day on the quay that surrounds the small harbor, the windmill standing guard as fireworks dazzle the mid summer night, the most amazing display of light and spark either of us has ever seen.
Another day, we arrive early at le marché aux poissons (the fish market) in Les Sables D’Olonne, a short drive up the coast from Jard. We select ocean fish just caught that morning, each one just the right size for each of us to savor after they have been roasted on the open grill in our jardin (garden). The scent of charred wood, sweet pine and grilled fish fills the air. The air is as nourishing as the meal itself. We de-bone and filet our whole fish and heap mounds of ratatouille onto the plate, the juices from the vegetable mélange and the fish mixing to make a flavor uniquely ours, our Jard flavor, our Jard fragrance. I drink a dry Loire white, you a local beer. To help settle our satiated tummies, we stroll into town pour la crème glacée (for ice cream). My favorite is Pêche Melba, served with a crunchy petite gateau and a spritz of kir. You select chocolate, plain and simple.
You learn to love the simplicity of our life in Jard, the walks to town for bread and to visit the vendors who arrive in the square with their poulet, viande, legumes et fruites, and fromage. We develop a lazy, regular routine that may include a bike ride out through the fields of flowers that surround the village, or we may decide to attend mass at the ancient Catholic church, neither of us sure what the priest is saying or whether the mass is in French or Latin. It is a sacred, peaceful time and we give thanks for being alive and in this place.
Our most special time is a la plage, no matter where we have been on our travels. The beach has always held sway over us both. Is it the soothing repetition of gentle waves kissing the damp sand or the full throttle surge of vigorous, almost angry, surf tumbling down, battling to be the arrive first on that shore? I am the gentle waves, longing to just be; you are the tumbling surf, always surging, always searching, always challenging yourself.