France Day 5: The 2,000-Year-Old Bridge and Unexpected Frogs
Day 5 Geoff let me sleep in until I woke up naturally (HOORAY!), which was surprisingly late, and I was a little embarrassed, but then I learned they’d only been up an hour or so, and I didn’t feel so bad anymore. When I greeted the children at (noonish) in my pajamas, Bittykins said, “You are my best mommy.” And she hugged my leg with the sweetest little hug. Butterscotch said, “Mommy, I would never trade you for any other mommy. I would never trade you. If there was a whole store full of mommies, I would pick you.” Awwww! I’m so lucky.
Geoff had planned and packed a picnic for us today, at Pont Julien! This is a 2,000-year-old bridge. I explained to Butterscotch that this meant it was around when Jesus was his age. He was really impressed by this.
Remember when I told you that the soil here is rocky and a bit more arid, yet rich? And that the plants changed as we moved south in France? Well, it’s almost downright desertish here, with well-drained soil. Bright sun, dry plants on the ground in sunny places, even sandy topsoil. Yet at the same time, wine grapes wind on, strawberries grow, and trees everywhere are dripping with beautiful ripe, red, delicious cherries, perfect for picking right now. You can just reach up and grab them, like the Garden of Eden, and slurp them down in the shade.
This area also experiences a dry season in the summer, so the river under the bridge that I was expecting was nothing but very small green puddles. I was surprised by this wild, unexpected, other-worldly mini ecosystem underneath the bridge. Under our feet, rocks were carpeted with a bizarre spongy carpet, grey and almost dry on top, nearly indistinguishable from the rocks from a distance. Yet underneath the sponge was a living moss with many more tiny creatures living under it. In the slick green pools, we found hundreds of tadpoles and a few bright green slippery frogs, and even a water snake! On the edge of the wash, we found tiny, fragile snail shells – thin, flat, white, perfectly round, and about as big as your fingernail. We also picked up any trash we found.
We hypothesized all afternoon about what the small arches in between the big arches were. I think they were for guards at the bridge, as the bottom of those arches came to just where high tide would come. Geoff says I have a very active imagination.
I was tired from all the sun, so I took a long, long, long afternoon nap with Bittykins while Butterscotch played, and Geoff took him to the pool when he returned from his 6 ½ mile run through the countryside. He said the whole time, he was passed only by 4 cars, 2 bikes, and 2 people on foot.
Bittykins and I took down and folded the laundry from the line and walked home with the sun peeping through the garden on one side and painting dappled pink on the stone wall on the other side of the path. She held my hand, and we sang There Was a Hole, In the Middle of the Ground for way too many verses. For dinner, we had fried fish, fresh sautéed green beans with tomato, and what we thought was mashed potatoes, but what we actually bought was cod mixed with potatoes, which you can spread on toast. I ate it like mashed potatoes, and it was quite good!
During dinner, because we always eat outside, we were approached by a little grey and white cat. France is full of cats wandering about. One of Butterscotch’s favorite books is even called The Cat Who Walked Across France, which details the journey of a misplaced cat on the way back to his home in St. Tropez. We fed it, but it didn’t seem very sociable, and moved along. After dinner, I found her sitting on the edge of a long stone wall at the edge of the lavender field, watching the hot pink and orange sunset and soaking up the very last soft pink rays and falling asleep. Even though I’m very allergic, I tried to pet her. Even though she didn’t want to be petted, she still followed me back to the front door. She needs people, but also likes her space. I know how she feels! As much as I adore my family, I’m beginning to feel the need for those 2 preschool days per week and my hour alone each afternoon during naptime. Anyway…I wonder if I’ll see the cat again.