I come to the farm of Guy and Raymonde Lory once a week to buy eggs and goat cheese. Cheese is available when the goats aren't feeding their young which is generally about two months out of the year. But eggs are available almost every week and they are special. Even les oeufs biologique that we buy in the supermarkets can't match these eggs. The large dark, yellow yokes are full of flavor and can make an omelet a gourmet treat.
The best time to visit is after five o'clock. Guy and Raymonde work in the fields and vineyards all day long despite their seventy something years. I park on the side of the road and walk down the steep muddy path to the old mill that they use as a home and farm. The stream that powered the mill has been diverted to run beside the old mill house but there is still evidence of the old streambed under the house. The house was flooded last week when the stream overflowed its banks. Half of the house is devoted to farm animals. Chickens, dogs and goats scurry out of the way as I negotiate the slippery path to the front door.
When I knock on the door I hear a noise inside that I know by experience is an invitation to enter. The door opens into the kitchen where Guy and Raymonde are sitting at a table entertaining some relatives from St. Arnoult. The house has the warm earthy farm smell and the atmosphere of true hospitality. When Guy extends his right hand, it feels like a hunk of dry, rough leather but his grip is warm and gentle. The gentle grip may be the result of his missing fingers but I suspect it is more of a reflection of the sweet, gentle character of these hobbit-like people. Four kisses on the cheek for Raymonde and handshakes for the relatives complete the local etiquette for hello. Like most of the farmers in our neighborhood, they are tiny hardy people in their mid seventies who seem to be melting into the ground that they have cultivated for so many years. Guy and Raymonde both walk with a sideways rocking motion because arthritis has stiffened the knees. But they show no signs of pain. They are all smiles and I have the warm sensation of being welcome. Guy broadcasts the latest Monsieur Jean story. He sounds like there is a small person yelling from the back of his throat. This phenomenon results from trying to talk while smiling. Guy never stops smiling.
Although out of sequence, we next talk
about the weather for several minutes. All conversations in the
Loir and Cher normally start with a brief discussion of the weather.
"Ah! De sale temps. Il pluie, pluie, pluie. C'est terrible."
A petit verre usually follows the weather. Guy rhetorically
asks if I would like a glass of wine. He pours me a tall glass
of the pink liquid that I already know to be the dry, flinty
pineau d'aunis wine from their own vines. Guy tells me that this
is the last of his wine. He is giving up winemaking and is burning
the vines for heat this winter. The vines are old and he doen't
wish to replant. I am a little surprised but this seems to be
happening more and more in the countryside of France. These little
farmers in their seventies and eighties are the last of a breed
of people carrying on the old country traditions.
Raymonde tells me that there is no cheese
because the newborns are still nursing. Egg production is also
down because of the humidity. Chickens don't lay eggs when it
is too wet. Guy goes to check the egg supply and tells me that
he only has eleven eggs. I am satisfied with that many but he
tells me to wait few moments. He waddles across the barnyard
to the chicken shed and returns a few minutes later. He extends
his cupped hands to me and I take its contents. It is an egg.
It is warm.
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|March 14, 2001 - Reliquary|
|March 7, 2001 - The Source of the Loir|
|February 28, 2001 - La Marseillaise|
|February 21, 2001 - Still on Wheels|
|February 14, 2001 - Marcel Proust|
|February 7, 2001 - La Chandeleur|
|January 31, 2001 - Winter Comfort Food|
|January 24, 2001 - Festival of Saint Vincent|
|January 17, 2001 - Guest Columnist Aprille Glover|
|January 10, 2001 - Muscadet|
|January 3, 2001 - Ode to Protein|
|December 27, 2000 - Summer Dreaming: Escargot|
|December 20, 2000 - Let Them Eat Cake|
|December, 13 2000 - Back to France|
|November 29, 2000 -Beignets Aux Fleurs d'Acacia|
|November 15, - Thanksgiving|
|November 8, - Pousse D'Epine|
|November 1, 2000 - Col de Vence: A day on the Moon|
|October 25, 2000 - Cult of the Black Virgin|
|October 18, 2000 - Harvesting Grapes by Hand|
|October 4, 2000 - Provence: All Good Things|