The opportunity to join friends in France lead us to Provence and for a wonderful adventure exploring a very beautiful part of our world.
From what I was told, the house was not officially a "Chateau", but it was a darn big house that was able to hold six families. Located in the French countryside alongside a vineyard, this was a delightful place to spend a week with some old friends, as well as some new ones.
There were 11 adults and 12 kids (under age twelve), and from the moment we walked in the door it was a wonderful atmosphere of "good times had by all". My kids were in the pool within five minutes of arrival, which in any country translates to pure joy. My wife and I were greeted by our friends who immediately poured us a nice glass of wine...which also translates to pure joy!
The food, the wine and the ability to sit on the vine covered patio at sunset reminded me that while work is important, one must stop and smell the lavender (which grew in abundance along the side of the perfectly green lawn).
Each day the first to wake would go to the local boulangerie for fresh bread and pastries. Following a relaxing morning on the patio, we would go in groups (large or small) to visit the unique Provencial towns that were within driving distance. The pace of life in the open air markets was much slower and more peaceful than in a crowded supermarket or shopping mall. Everyone seemed to know each other, and smiles were everywhere.
Don't get me wrong, we were still in France where rude is just part of life when it comes to strangers. One shop owner was talking bad about the customers (us) in French to her friend, not knowing that one of our clan was fluent in the romance language. We decided not to buy from this store.
Also, the French lack a sense of urgency that we Americans seem to have about everything. I am not saying we are right and they are wrong....just different. In fact, I admire the slow pace of my vacation...but while a two or three hour lunch seemed common, sometimes we just wanted the check so we could move on before the children were bored to tears.
I learned to enjoy the slow pace of life in Provence and to allow myself the opportunity to simply enjoy the world around me. I wish I could bring part of that home with me, but I fear that now that I have returned to Austin, the speed of life will return to supersonic.
We relished the joy of everyday in discovering the region. I came to appreciate that I can survive without having to check my email or cell phone, as in 17 days I only turned them on four times. Experiencing the moment and soaking up the pleasure of being with dear friends and family touched my heart.
Have A Great Day.