I realise that today it’s been one month since we moved to France and, yet, I still wake up in the morning wanting to pinch myself to test that I’m not dreaming. That yes, I did find a hedgehog sleeping in the chicken coop last night, that my cat actually comes running when I call him, that my husband and I are constantly giddy and hadn’t had a fight since London, that we have red squirrels in the trees in front of our house, that we own the land as far as we can see when we step out onto the terrace, that you can drink the water from our river, it’s that clean, that you can take long country walks, and see the stars, and have quite big parties with the neighbours too. I find it impossibly amazing that, just like in Sri Lanka, my mind is blissfully empty and all I ever feel is pure unadulterated joy.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying France is perfect and that everybody should move here. What I’m saying is that it is perfect for us right now. And that despite the usual hiccups (buying a car, waiting forever for the Internet, still not managing to get the oven to work even after changing the gas cylinder etc.), I find that almost every possible problem has a solution if you ask people, especially neighbours. We moved here on a rainy afternoon, only to be given a superficial induction of the house. The former owners hadn’t even told us where to buy chicken and goats feed from. Only that we’ll find some local to sell us the hey. We started with practically non-existent experience and learnt by asking questions. For instance, the dreaded hey, has been delivered to our house on Monday morning by a local whom we met at our Scottish neighbour’s house on Saturday (we only knocked on their door to drop a bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes, as a thank you for the last time they’d had us over and ended up being invited to a dinner party, again!).
Another neighbour offered to look at the electrics and another to put us in touch with an artisan to give us a quote for the bannister inside the barn. I stopped fretting over problems long ago. Here, just like in the old days in Romania, people solve problems and there’s always someone who knows someone. I’m still learning to get over my London mentality of texting someone before daring to go over, but I’ve been told repeatedly to just knock on the door.
And why would I complain if this is what’s knocking at my door every day?