July 14th….Bastille Day. The winds and rains have moved on and left a sunny, warm day for us to revel in. The figs on the tree in the courtyard are almost past their prime but perfect for baking…..it was time to try to recreate last year’s delicious fig cake.
While I was inside baking, Craig was outside cleaning up the yard for our guests…..until he found a wasps’ nest inside the patio table! With company on their way, Craig declared war on these unwelcome tenants.
First, armed with only a broom handle, he went on a search and destroy mission. He made contact with the enemy but, severely outnumbered, he was wounded in combat. It was time to change tactics…..he resorted to chemical warfare and diffused a noxious gas throughout the underpinnings of the once benign table. The wasps, angered but not incapacitated, slowly filtered out of their home….circling until they felt it was safe to return. Ah, but Craig was one step ahead of them. He was waiting nearby with a primitive weapon that guaranteed success…..a small sheet of lightweight, plastic mesh attached to a plastic handle. With this member of the SWAT team at the ready, the wasp population was reduced one by one.
We heard from Joe and Cathie in the early evening. They had just arrived at Les Volet Bleus, the B&B in Salleles d’Aude, after a long drive from Beaune (in central France). We met them in town and drove back to the cottage for dinner. With the wasp population in decline, we sat around the patio table…..sipping rosés from Languedoc and reds from Burgundy, nibbling on French cheeses, watching the boats go by and listening to Joe and Cathie as they related their tales of adventures on this, their first trip to Europe. Hearing their stories, seeing their smiles and sensing their wonder brought back fond memories of our first trip to Europe…..we might not agree with them on politics but I think we all agree that Europe is a magical place. After a light dinner and fresh fig cake for dessert, it was nearing dark. In the distance, we heard the unmistakeable sound of fireworks…..Salleles d’Aude was celebrating Bastille Day with a shimmering display of fireworks over the Gailhousty Lock. We stood on the bridge in front of the cottage and, with a clear and unobtructed view down the canal, watched this illuminated celebration of freedom….a tradition that we share with the French.
On Friday, we met after breakfast and drove down the coast to Leucate Plage…..one of the most beautiful beaches in Languedoc. It was still early when we arrived but the beach was starting to fill with sun-worshippers. It was easy to see why…..
with cream-colored homes climbing a tree-covered hill, palm trees and pink oleanders lining the streets, miles of soft, golden sand and sparkling turquoise waters, it captured the very essence of the Mediterranean.
With the Pyrenees standing proudly in the distance, we walked along the beach, dipping our toes in the cool sea. At one end of the beach, a fishing boat was preparing to journey out to sea….it’s nets were spread out along the beach and a group of schoolchildren was helping to reel them into the boat.
Dinner was at Le Chat Qui Peche, a gourmet restaurant on the Canal du Midi…..we discovered that it’s much easier for boaters to reach as we drove along a rutted road next to the canal for what seemed like miles before turning onto the bridge that led us to it’s parking lot. Service was slow, but with good food and good conversation, the evening passed by all too quickly.
Sunrise came early on Saturday. Joe and Cathie met us at the cottage. It promised to be another warm day as we climbed aboard Joie de France for a cruise down the canal. Slowly cruising these calm waters always brings a sense of calm and today was no different. While Joe chatted with Craig inside the boat, Cathie and I sat outside on the bow enjoying the warm sun and gentle breeze. We arrived in Capestang too early for lunch, so we pushed on to Colombiers…..cruising through the Malpas Tunnel on our way. After a light lunch at Pomme Cannelle and a stroll along the marina, we started the cruise back to the cottage. The breeze had died down and the sun was in its full glory so Cap’n Craig had more company in the front cabin on the return trip as he steered us back to the cottage.
Joe and Cathie are heading to Switzerland tomorrow so we spent our last night with them on the patio…..sharing a light meal, drinking more wine and chatting about future plans (while carefully avoiding any talk of politics). Our time with them couldn’t have been any better…..fireworks over the canal, crowd-free sunny days, delicious meals and good company…..life is good.
Bonne route, mes amis!