Visiting Normandy is an exercise in appreciating the present moment while being surrounded by reminders of the past. Time moves like honey here; smart phones, if present at all, are rarely consulted; the weather is a significant topic of conversation. Simple pleasures abound. People take walks, and enjoy their meals on the terrace.
One afternoon, we visited the farm where M. Cheesemonger’s best friend grew up. It was for practical reasons. The family dog needed to go for a walk. We skirted neighboring wheat fields while the dog, a French Spaniel named Bali, dove right in and bounded around the fields. The wheat was so thick, she often advanced by jumping, which was the only time we saw her. Otherwise, only the slight rustling of plants signaled her presence at all. Wide fields, a sunny afternoon, plenty of rodents to chase, and she was happy.
More than anywhere else, M. Cheesemonger’s hometown is a shining example of the continuing enmeshment of the past and the present. This is a town that carries its history with it into the future. Only a few meters from M. Cheesemonger’s house sit the ruins of the beautiful 16th century Eglise St. Jean, destroyed during World War II. Today, people walk their dogs along its walls and hold barbecues during local festivals.
Speaking of the past, when I scoured the weekly market in search of local honey, I met an apiculteur, M. Pimbert Jacky. Upon learning that I was American, he recounted the history of his father and his village during World War II. His father, a member of the French resistance, sheltered Allied troops and fugitives on the family property. M. Jacky extended his heartfelt gratitude toward the United States, reminding me that there is still much respect for all that the U.S. did for France during that war. Today, the honey he sells comes from that same property.
You don’t have to be in France to enjoy simple pleasures. There’s always something to love about every moment. Can you find them, the simple pleasures in your day?
For those of you in a position to find M. Jacky and his delicious honey, pain d’épices, royal jelly, and honey-sweetened candies, his business is called Rucher de St. Jouin. He sells at markets around Normandy and the Loire, but his home base is at 3 & 5, Place St. Jouin, 37120, Faye-la-Vineuse, France.
To close on a slight tangent, did you know I’ve got a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account? I’m online all the time (except when I’m working at the cheese shop), and if you message me, I’ll respond!