Almost 6 months planning has gone into getting us to this spot.
Checklist after checklist of virtual school, french visa, apartment rental, airplane tickets, train passes, and packing requirements have been made and completed. If we don't have it or haven't foreseen it, it can't possibly be something that millions of French people can't help us with. Only 6 days in and already our french apartment is filled with fresh anemones from the Marche des Fleurs two blocks away and amazing aromas from the recipes made with fresh ingredients from the Cours Saleya. Kelly and I made friends with Eric, a vegetable seller in the market. He gave me French/English cooking instructions for artichokes(chop, chop, chop- in the pan- l'huile d'olive- swe,swe,swe-parmesan-parfait-French cooking is simple!) and recommended the best apples for a tarte tatin. The Bullingtons have braved the butcher shop- I have to work up the nerve and bone up on my french to go order the marrow bones I need for Pot au Feu and the 3 lb chuck roast for Beef Daube. The food sellers tend to warm to you when they realize you are truly trying a cuisiner. This morning, sad from dropping Kelly at the airport, I made a quick stop at the vegetable market before walking to the apartment. The little white haired lady with her fresh bouqi de thym as big around as a wine bottle for 1E50 and the other with the best strawberries tout le monde reminded me why we are here. With each day, the children and I can understand and converse a little more in another language. With each trip to the market, we make new acquaintances, learn new protocol, and understand a new culture.
This experiment/adventure was never about becoming french- it is about understanding and appreciating our bigger world. Nice is a blended Mediterranean culture. Within blocks of our apartment there are Turkish, Afghani, Greek, and Italian restaurants. There are signs written in Spanish, Italian, French and Russian. There are people, both residents and visitors, that are from all over the world. We use our minds constantly to learn or decipher new words in our new language and many times it is just a matter of thinking of another way to say the word- cognates like la nourriture for food (think nourishment) or je comprend for I understand. This is an amazing opportunity for us to be less ego- and ethno-centric and appreciate more of the awesome world that God has given us.
And if, in addition, we have jumped off our American hamster wheel that had us running from one activity or commitment to the next in pursuit of_______, then all the better. My teenagers went to the grocery store with me today, we navigated foreign food labels, we paid in euro, we walked, and took public transportation, and carried our groceries. Another hidden blessing in this trip is the time we have carved out of an otherwise busy, frenetically paced life to enjoy our family while it is still a tight unit before Camille is gone to college. This is a chance for me to soak up the precious time we have with our children and what better place to do it than one where fresh baguettes are everywhere- and only cost 1E!!