Val and I have just had our first week away from home together since we moved to France 2½ years ago. Thanks to good friends who came out from England to ‘farm sit’, we were able to leave the animals while we went off to enjoy ourselves.
Well, sort of. It was actually very busy and not at all relaxing. I expect Val might write in more detail about the trip, but I shall content myself with reporting that I managed to see two new grandsons, one granddaughter, three children, two step-children (one of whom got married), two parents, and a selection of former colleagues. And drive 2500 kilometres. All in 8 days.
There’s not one element of all that that I would have wanted to miss. Nevertheless, I am so glad to be home.
Yes, home. I’ve realised that this is home. Not for ever, I’m sure – perhaps not even for many years – but for now this small farm, with all its limitations, is where my heart is.
This morning it was my turn to do the early tending to the animals. Dogs, pigs, chickens, dogs in that order. Followed by making breakfast. And I loved it all. Best for me, though, were the cats, who threaded their independent way through the morning time-line.
There’s no telling with cats. I can’t even say for sure how many we now have living with us. Little Cat (the oldest one who was born after our arrival) seems to have moved on, maintaining a pattern that we raise cats and they leave us when they are adult. Their visits to the house become less frequent, and then they come by no more.
This could be really depressing, but one way or another, new cats arrive to replace them. The latest – and it seems the only survivor of the barn cat litter – is becoming much more friendly. He (yes, a male, which is very rare among the Blanchetière cats) was coaxed into stroking contact by the daughters of our visitors (thanks Amy and Ella). Now he is beginning to exhibit the ‘magnetic cat’ characteristics of the others – twining round my feet as I try to walk near him. He still sleeps in the barn, and is barely tolerated by the currently established 3 house cats, but I can see him joining our motley crew inside before long.
He hasn’t a name yet. Past experience has taught that early naming leads to more grief when followed by early death. As I haven’t managed to harden my heart to pet death, I’m cautious not to become too captivated . . . . but this one, whatever he is to be called, is creeping into my affections, and settling himself down comfortably.