Bill and I seldom give a definitive “no” anymore when one of us poses the question “Are we doing anything tonight?” Back in Atlanta we had a bulletin board at the house where we posted a calendar so that we could see all of the upcoming events for the month. Heck, you could probably make that for the year since we always scheduled vacations to Europe at least that far in advance. We had the challenges of getting time off from work, arranging flights and specific seats on the plane, finding a holiday house/apartment in the right location with the ever-important dishwasher and washing machine, etc. Now that we live in Europe, things have changed…for the better.
One of the many things that attracted us to France was its many villages and all the idyllic images that spring to mind: stone houses, mill streams, ivy-covered walls, cobbled streets, flowers everywhere, friendly neighbors who know your name, a castle in the distance, quiet evenings in the garden…. There’s even an organization called The Most Beautiful Villages in France devoted to preserving and promoting this lifestyle. Despite its size as a city, in Carcassonne we’ve found all of that except that distant castle (the one here casts a shadow on our house) and those quiet evenings. Allow me to explain—
On Tuesday we were walking back from the market when we ran into one of our neighbors whom we hadn’t seen for a while. He asked us if we were busy that evening and maybe we could get together for an apéro (drink) to catch up on all the news. We had been the guests before, so it was time for us to issue the invitation and since it seems that the typical time here for this before-dinner-drink is 8:00 PM, that became an enjoyable and unexpected evening.
The next afternoon we got a text from someone we had met only two weeks before to see if we wanted to go to dinner. Her husband was in Paris for work and if we were not already busy she would love the company. Another delightful dinner.
Then on Thursday afternoon there was a knock on our door with a different neighbor’s request to help push his car into position where it could be towed to the garage. As a thank-you, he invited us to a concert of classical music at 9:00 PM followed by glasses of sparkling wine. Who were we to say “no”?
It’s now Friday as I’m writing this and Bill has just asked me if we’re doing anything tomorrow at 11. I’m afraid to ask why and if that’s 11 AM or PM. Who knew that the quiet “village” life would be so busy?