We survived and are home now, and scrambling to pick everything up where we left off. Everything seems slightly different - the goats are fatter, because my mom was slower at milking and they got twice as much barley as usual. The cows all benefited from the spring green-up. It is good to see some meat finally on poor little Sampson's ribs. He was thin this past winter.
My mom washed all my rugs and extra laundry while I was gone, so everything was so nice and neat for us when we rolled up at 3:30 am after the 9 1/2 hour flight across the ocean, and a 4 hour drive up to North Florida from Fort Lauderdale, not to mention the three hours spent on lay-over in Denmark.
We are re-adjusting slowly. The heat and humidity seems unbelievable after springtime in Eastern France. I can smell the mildew in my house. I have had a rash on the back of my neck since I was six years old. One doctor thought it was psoriasis. Some other doctors didn't know what it was. For years I washed my hair with toxic coal-tar shampoo, without any good effects. Strangely, the rash goes away when I am in France. The dampness and heat are not good for my skin here. I'm not really supposed to live here. There is a sense of belonging to the climate in Europe that I never experience on this side of the Atlantic. I don't feel like I look strange there, because there are so many more very European faces, but here there is certainly a sense of not fitting in. I couldn't bring my hat on the airplane, but I never got a sunburn, despite many days spent in the sunshine. I had forgotten how strong the sun is here, so close to the middle of the Earth.
I was so worried about the garden. In retrospect, it was stupid to plan a big, ambitious garden and a 2-week vacation at the same time. All the plants were seedlings when I left, and now they are huge. A lot of things didn't grow well or survive. I wasn't there to pour the usual love on to them, but I am accepting it. France was good for me.
At the sheep farm we stayed there was hardly any food. Some potatoes, bread and lettuce. While travelling, there were many days we had only bread and water to eat (literally), because it seems like nothing is ever open there. Either it's the massive lunch break they take in the middle of the day, or they aren't open that day of the week for some reason. Even Mirin got sick of bread, and Rose was sick of sausage and French fries. Unheard of. I harvested nettles and made soup with them just to have something green. It was so very different from our usual diet of mostly vegetables, milk, eggs and meat. I don't think I can stand to eat bread again for a while.
When we got home, I noticed my mom had forgotten to pick the vegetables that were ready in the garden. She said she couldn't find them, it is so big and you can get lost. So the first day we were back, I found Roma beans crying to be picked, too many cucumbers, squash getting out of control. We were so vegetable-deprived for those two weeks, I made a huge salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and couldn't stop eating vegetables. They were so good and fresh. So I'm glad the garden is not as big as I had wanted it to be. It will feed us, anyhow.
So now I know why I am fat. I can't really blame the breast-feeding any more, because I know it's because I eat too much really. In France I got by very well on about a third of what I usually eat, and was so tired from walking up mountains I never even woke up hungry in the middle of the night. I blame the garden. I can't let those fresh cucumbers and squash go to waste. I won't even tell you how much salsa I made this morning. I've never seen so many tomatillos on one plant. Someone has to eat it.
PS: I am posting on the previous posts of just pictures letters that Ethan wrote about what we were doing. Hopefully it will explain things.