Friday, September 24, 2010

There's Always a Mushroom Around the Corner

The last couple weeks were really hectic with arriving at the farm and then leaving the farm only a week later. On top of that, I returned to Martine’s, but knew I couldn’t stay there and had to find a new family...stressful. Martine didn’t have room for me for another four weeks because while I was there the first time, I was actually sleeping in Martine’s room. She slept on the couch in the salon for six weeks. (Don’t ask me the details of why this was the situation because it was explained to me on my first day in France, and I really didn’t understand.) So when I returned, she was happy to have me back but could only host me until I found a new family. Luckily, she had a friend/colleague, Barbara, who also takes foreign students and didn’t have anyone at the moment. Barbara sounded great, but the apartment was 30 minutes on foot from the school! It sounded rough compared to the five minute walk I had from Martine’s. To my surprise, Martine told me that she had a bike “dans la cave” that I could borrow for the three weeks that I would be at Barbara’s. I was totally excited. I could get to and from school quickly and get around the city more freely.

Martine also said that we would go mushroom hunting à la forêt the next Sunday which had me equally excited. Over the last month, Martine had been recounting stories of mushroom hunting to Ayumi and me. We were practically drooling every time she mentioned les cèpes, and we had been pouring over her mushroom books. (Yes, Martine owns two books on mushroom hunting.

I couldn’t have been happier, but then Friday came. The muffler of Martine’s car fell off and broke in two, and the turning signal stopped working. She tried to fix it Saturday morning, but alas, she couldn’t get the parts she needed until Monday. That meant no mushroom hunting. On top of that, she had been speaking with Barbara. To our surprise Barbara said there was no place to store the bike at her apartment, and it couldn’t be left outside because theft is too big of a problem. I was totally heartbroken. No mushrooms and no bike. On top of that I was feeling more and more anxious about moving to a new family.

I realized though that this is the way most things work out here. It’s always dangerous to get your hopes up and get too excited about something because things don’t always turn out as intended. I think the French really enjoy the journey, and it’s only a bonus if you make it to the finish line. And where’s the finish line anyways? More often than not, the end result isn’t what was originally planned, but it’s usually just as good, if not better.

Rather than going mushroom hunting, Martine, Pierre, Ayumi, and I sat down to Sunday lunch. This in itself was enough to lift the spirits a bit. We ate fish wrapped in bacon, sautéed cabbage, and baked potatoes. Halfway through, Martine’s mother called saying she had a giant spider in her kitchen and didn’t know what to do! She, Martine, and Pierre are deathly afraid of spiders, so Ayumi and I offered to dispose of it. Just like that we had an invitation for coffee with Martine’s mom! I love Martine’s mother. She’s full of energy, tells funny stories, and speaks really fast French. We also hadn’t seen the apartment since we helped her move a month before.
To make a long story even longer, the coffee was great, the spider not too large, and the apartment was magnificent. I still had no bike, but Sunday afternoon was formidable, and there’s always next weekend for mushrooms!

The apartment of Martine's mom

The gigantic old front door

Twisty and narrow staircase that all of Martine's mom's belongings were carried up when she moved, including the gigantic buffet.

Most of the paintings on the walls were done by Martine.

The huge and ancient buffet

Martine and her mom


  1. Great pictures! I love Martines Mom's apartment, especially the old desk with the ink blotter and pens. Also the old containers on the shelf in the kitchen and the beautiful china. Do you know anything about the blue and pink china?

  2. I asked Martine's mom about the blue and pink china in her kitchen. She said it all came from England.