Aix is but a snowstorm away

Depending on the weather gods, it could prove a matter of perfect timing.

“I have a half teaspoon of herbes de provence left,” Kathy announced at breakfast the day after Christmas. “Just enough for the pork roast.”

Just enough for us to board that airplane this Friday, first to London and then Marseille, France. From there we’ll haul our monstrous 62-pound, red suitcase and a few others aboard a bus to Aix-en-Provence with clothes for six months and three seasons.

By Saturday, we should have a chance to replenish our spent supply of the region’s famous mix of dried Provencal herbs.  If, that is, the first big snowstorm of 2014 ends in time for the plane to take off. ….If.

I am going to think positively. I have, after all, survived the last week. I’ve survived a stomach virus and a crazed cat who darn near destroyed our guest bedroom and killed our daughter Meghan when faced with the indignity of being crated and moved to a temporary new home.  I’ve weathered a New Year’s Eve spent cleaning bathroom floors on hands and knees and a dog who, just after I’d vacuumed the living room carpet for the third time in two days, put his front paws on the kitchen counter, grabbed lettuce from the sink and ran into the living room where he dumped said lettuce on that very same carpet. Perhaps to do penance, he showed up a few hours later with a yellow sponge in his mouth.)

I will miss Murphy, our lovable, eccentric,  and, sometimes it seems, untrainable golden retriever. But I surely won’t miss his habit of inhaling whatever is in sight and reach – clods of dirt, sticks, bottle caps, gloves and anything, I mean anything, that qualifies as food.  Perhaps our house sitters will succeed in civilizing him. We have not, though he more than makes up for it in licks and pure devotion.

And I will miss family, especially the hugs and tickles of our grandchildren.

As we scrambled to scrub, clean and pack, the kids added a bit to the chaos, but much more to the joy of Christmas (we celebrated with both our girls and their kids a day late because, as Meghan explained to 6-year-old Devon, I have a special relationship with Santa).  The kids also gave us less time to clean obsessively– a gift in its own right, I figure, since there are just so many times one can vacuum the same living room carpet.

For six months, Facetime and Skype will  fill some of the distance.  And when Kathy and I can sit and let the day unfold around us at a sunny sidwalk cafe, we’ll have plenty to see, plenty of stories to share.

With that big storm named Hercules closing in, the smells and sounds of Provence still seem a mirage, shimmering just out of reach. But whether in two days or three or four, we will find our way to the fair city of Aix, a place of exceptional grace and charm, vibrant outdoor markets and plenty of sunshine year round.

It is the sunshine that sounds most alluring about now. That along with the herbes de provence. If you’ve cooked with it once, you’ll understand why we just can’t eat without it anymore.  That pork roast was really good. But its remains went out with the other trash as we turned over the keys and dog to our tenants and moved to the house of my cousin, who lives a short drive from Logan Airport.  Now it’s just a matter of  weathering the storm and, if we must, hitching a ride across the Atlantic.

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