08 July 2012

9 x 7 = 63

Nine times seven. Sixty-three. Sixty-three is my age. I've lived in Saint-Aignan (just outside, actually) for nine years now. That means I've spent one-seventh of my life here.

And in fact, this is our 10th summer in Saint-Aignan. Every one has been different from all the others. It's all kind of hard to believe.

Living the life in this house in Saint-Aignan

When we moved here in 2003, I don't believe I had thought too much about what life would be like ten years later. Now the tenth anniversary is not all that far away. Back when, I wasn't even convinced I would live this long. If I hadn't come to live in the French countryside, I might not have.

I'm as happy living here as I've ever been anywhere else. And I've lived here twice as long as I lived in Durham NC, Washington DC, Champaign-Urbana IL, or Paris earlier in my life. (Don't get me wrong — I loved living in Paris when I was younger.)

Flowers, bugs, vegetable gardens, and long walks in the vineyard have
replaced offices, long commutes, traffic jams, and work stress.

Only two other places — my home town in NC and the San Francisco Bay Area in California — have detained me longer. In each case, 18 years — twice as long as the time I've spent now in Saint-Aignan.

In fact, at this point more than half the time I've ever spent in France over the past 63 years has been spent in Saint-Aignan. Wow, reading the list of places I've called home — and I've left a few out — makes me feel like a real gypsy.

When I lived in California, I joked that my feet never actually
touched dirt, only concrete and pavement. That changed...

Yesterday, one of the neighbors came over for a chat. She's the woman who lives most of the year in Blois and just spends the months of July and August here in Saint-Aignan. We wondered if there was something specific she wanted to tell us or ask us, but it was just a social call. We chatted for 30 or 40 minutes out on the terrace.

Le château de Montpoupon

Madame M. is in her late 70s now, and her husband is in his early 80s. They have seven children and more grandchildren that I can count, including some great-grandchildren now. Their life is so different from ours. Unless I'm mistaken, they have never in their lives flown on an airplane. Compare that to my life — I've flown across the Atlantic Ocean nearly 70 times.

Flowers about to pop open in the yard

We had a big thunderstorm last night, with loud thunder and bright flashes of lightning. I had to get up and shut some windows. Wind was driving the rain indoors. As far was I can tell, the gusty wind didn't do any damage out in the yard and garden.


  1. Nice, reflective post. I love the way you write. And each day your blog post takes me in new directions. I never know what to expect -- and that's the fun of it! Bon dimanche!

  2. It is amazing when you put it all down on paper, isn't it? We had a big thunderstorm about midnight too.

  3. Hi Ch, hope you are well. Must call one day soon.

    Susan, we got 17 mm of rain last night. That's a lot.

  4. That makes our 9 seem tame! We could see the storm over Susan's from here... quite spectacular!

    Gypsy Ken? Maybe, but with a lot of interesting life and tales under your belt. Keep on truckin'... but from a home-base now!

  5. Posts like this one are my favorites. Now I understand that you spent a good number of years in the fog of SF. And wow, so many trips across the pond!

    I think your neighbor likes you-you've both had full lives in different ways.

  6. Ken

    You are a very good ambassador for France - you don't have to write books - your descriptions through the blog of your life in France - starting with wine , food , visits of different areas , all the way to your hometown ( or is it home village for home hamlet) are very interesting and inviting.

  7. 70 trips - that is a LOT of jetlag. Were you going back and forth for business some of those times? You must have racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles, too. I would be curious how many were free trips.

    Your blog is always interesting to me, too, for many of the reasons already listed. For me, I am just curious about living in France, something I have always said I might tackle, one day. The daily "quotidian" that you blog about is always filled with local trivia that has always fascinated me.

  8. Unlike you, I tend to dig in when I get to a new place. I've lived in my current place for sixteen years. Before this, I lived in the same place for twenty-five years.

  9. J'adore cet article :-)
    Bises à vous 2

  10. Hi Ken
    I think we spoke before when I was writing my France in Ruins book.
    I am now blogging as you can see about our retreat here near Rouvres Les Bois, south of Valencay.

    I am trying to get a French version of my book to press so watch this space

    Love the Chateau you speak of here



  11. You done good. As soon as I replace our heating and AC system, i just might be on a plane.


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