Life in France, Part Three

Life in France, Part Three April 6, 2008

Saturday was Jonathan’s 31st birthday and Adriana was absolutely determined to surprise him with a party and an American-style cookout. This party took a week in planning, unbelievable coordination, many hands to help, and much trust the people would keep it secret. The big fly in the ointment is that Jonathan decided on Friday that he wanted to taken me and the family to Paris on Saturday so I could see the city, and Adriana just had to agree to go, hoping we could change his mind in the morning.

At 9:30 a.m, Jackie (who is from Australia) and her daughter, Lotta, (six months old), came for breakfast and walked in, acting surprised at all the birthday decorations (Adriana blew up balloons and made a huge card for Jonathan). Innocently she asks, “is this your birthday? Oh, I hope I’m not intruding.” When assured that she was not, we all sat down for a delicious repast–along with the usual fresh croissants, of course, and then I equally innocently asked, “Jonathan, I really want to see that Norman church in Moret. Could we go over there and then maybe find a hardware store where we might find something to provide a temporary fix to the washing machine?” He agreed and we decided to take Joshua with us.

This worked out beautifully. We had a lovely time at the church, found a few things that might help with the washing machine situation, and then Joshua fell asleep and we took advantage of his nap to take a long, glorious drive through the countryside, seeing tiny little towns and horse stables and beautiful fields, plowed and many already lush with crop. Stopped at on point when a group of pheasants were crossing the road and just watched them. Almost all the roads we were were one lane roads (but two way) just meandering between forest and farm and tiny town. Exquisite moments, quiet and peaceful and in tune with the rhythms of nature.

It was nearly 1 before we got back and Jonathan said something about taking us all to lunch in Fontainebleu, but as he drive down the driveway, he saw the outside table covered with balloons and set for a picnic and said, “Hmm, I guess Adriana has other plans.”

Somehow, this party just turned out. Besides Jackie and her six month old, two other couples with children exactly the same ages as Joshua and Samuel came along with a single man from Germany and our landlady. So in the house, we had seven children under two and a half, two Americans, one Colombian, two Spaniards, two Parisians, one German, one Australian, and one rural Frenchwoman.

Adriana had cleaned an ancient grill and Jonathan managed to light the fire and cook the burgers. I couldn’t find American style hamburger buns, so I had bought small loaves of bread for the buns, along with all the fixings. We had hidden a couple of cases of beer outside, and they stayed cold out there. English was the common language, so that was how we conversed.

Simply wonderful time, last person left at 6:00 and we just sat and looked at each other. Jonathan truly had no idea we were doing this. And the rain held off until the last person left, thank goodness, so the men and older children could be outside while the women and smaller children crammed into the tiny living area for great conversation.

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