History


Parallel Lives 5

Crisscrossing the land on this hilltop are several roads to nowhere.  They are the vestiges of old rural lanes that once connected farms and hamlets to villages.  A few of these paths still lead from one place to another, but most of them were chopped up a century ago and have fallen into abandon. My favorite path has an intersection at our front gate.  Like the scarecrow’s choice, from this point you can meander south along the ridge, east down to the stream, or north to the river.  Or rather, one could a hundred years ago.  You wouldn’t know you’re […]


Summer Solstice 1

Millions of years ago the Dordogne carved a series of caves into the rock cliff under our house.  The village historian told me they were the site of Druidic rituals, later appropriated by the Romans for their own gods. Since it’s the Summer Solstice, I took myself down to the caves this morning looking for the wisp of a Druid or two. The spot is somewhat difficult to access, and hidden most of the year by the shadows of thickets and tress.   But in late June at sunrise, the caves present several niches of warm and inviting nooks.   […]


The 17th of May in 1763 3

It’s one of those perfect Tourbeille days.  Sunlight and sky so crisp you want to sing.  Air fragrant with Acacia blossoms.  Fields rising high with clover and prairie flowers. On the most sublime day of the year, John waltzes off to an overgrown pasture with his scythe and I chain myself to my desk. The United States government has requested a translation of the “wallpaper” on our wine label. By scythe and by pen, we jump back in time. I open my copy of a page from the Old Parchment Journal to find the scribbles in antique French that make […]


June – Linden Blossom Tea 8

Every June we’re brought to our senses by the ubiquitous perfume of the Linden Trees.  A hot Sunday afternoon, time out from chores, we sit under their massive boughs and synch into the hum of hundreds of bees. Someone is dozing in the hammock there, dreaming of Linden Flower honey. Under the soporific spell Henri toys with a flower and asks his Tata Claire if she knows how to make Linden Tea.  Nap time ends abruptly. First, John saws off several low branches that beg for pruning.  We perch inside a fragrant heap of leaves and flowers teeming with insects […]


The Parchment Journal 2

“Vers la fin de l année 1761, le Regiment de mont marin dans lequel je servais en qualité de Capitaine, était en garrison a Bordeaux…; il recut ordre de se tenir prêt pour s embarquer sur les vaisseaux du Roy a Rochefort pour etre transporté a l Amerique.” Of all the people who used to come to tea at La Tourbeille, Madame V. was my favorite.  Sparkling and direct, she prefers cheer to gloom and had the best stories about life in this region during the Time Before the War.  I shunned all other conversation to glue myself to her […]


Paris Refugees

We were in the Bibliothèque, my mother in law and I, cleaning the chandelier.  A  delicate task L. trusted to no one since it involved taking apart scores of pieces of crystal, cleaning each jewel with cotton batting and alcohol, then putting the puzzle back together again while balancing at the top of a ladder. From the ceiling I had an eagle’s view of the mahogany cabinets, laden with meticulous stacks of antique green file boxes.  L. was very proud of her library; it had become the central repository for family archives as her peers left the earth and left […]


A Place for Dreaming

Over the years we’ve lived so many stories on this land my journal entries could fill an 18th century armoire.  In truth, La Tourbeille is such an out of world/out of time place, she should really be the subject of sonnets.  Even the postman goes poet when he steps on the land.  He brings extra junk mail as an excuse when he can’t fill the box with bills; he lingers and chats and reminds me every day that we live in a “magical” place.  For sure, this is a place that makes people dream.  Maybe that’s why I’m trying to write […]