A couple of days after meeting Lucie she handed me a four-leaf clover. I already felt lucky for so many reasons. This small, green weed was just physical evidence. Lucie told me that she often looks down at the ground and sees more than she can count. I, on the other hand, have never found a four-leaf clover. Not once. I kept the clover and pressed it between the pages of my journal. Now, a couple of weeks later, I remember that day with such clarity. It didn’t surprise me that Lucie can find four-leaf clovers without really looking; she carries herself that way, with a lucky glow. And now I have a four-leaf clover of my own, the small one pressed in my journal and the very large, figurative one that was my three months abroad. I feel so lucky to have experienced all I did.
My parents joined me for my last couple days at La Ferme Belmont. For the past few years they have spent about one month each summer biking around France on their tandem. Quite the dynamic duo. This time before they commenced their Tandem Tour de France they spent a couple of days with the Martinal Family and me, and witnessed the simple and happy little life I’d carved out for myself. It was at once wonderful and overwhelming to share my farming experience with them. On my last day there, my mom helped me make a batch of goat cheese and that night Jean-Yves told me that it looked “perfect.” Music to my ears. We sat outside in the dusk talking mostly in French. I understood much more than I had when I arrived late at night almost three weeks earlier. Still, Jean-Yves and I had tailored our own little FrenchEnglishhandsignal language down to a science. We all feasted on gigantic bowls of lettuce accompanied by an assortment of our cheeses, homemade beer and french fries, and it felt so bittersweet. I think my parents’ arrival triggered something in me emotionally. I realized that soon enough I would have to leave my simple farming life and my trip was rapidly coming to an end. I was a little scared. I didn’t want to lose all the positive energy I’d gained, but I also knew that I couldn’t stay there forever.
My EasyJet flight the next day from Lyon to Barcelona was not so “Easy.” The plane took off and fifteen minutes into the flight the pilot announced over the intercom that there was a malfunction and we had to land immediately. “We are returning to Lyon and will be on the ground in ten minutes.” No one on the flight seemed remotely phased by this information, so I followed suit. It even occurred to me that it wouldn’t be an entirely terrible time to die. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t want to die. My train of thought went something like this:
“I don’t want to die on this plane, but if it crashes before we land I hope it happens fast. Hmm. I’m in the back of the plane. Don’t people survive in the back more often that the front? I honestly never thought I’d die in a plane crash. I think we’ll be okay. But, I guess since we all have to die at some point, then dying now wouldn’t be so bad. I just kissed my parents goodbye. I feel happy. I have no regrets. I don’t hear any weird, malfunctiony noise. This is weird. Why is everyone so calm? I hope we don’t crash.”
Needless to say, the plane didn’t crash. We landed in Lyon, waited on the plane for a good hour, transferred to another plane and landed in Barcelona about three hours late. Could have been much worse.
I spent the last three days of my trip in a semi-daze. Lee and Lauren were, as always, the most gracious of hosts. We listened to live jazz outside of L’Auditori, whipped up a Mexican feast with kilos worth of fresh produce from the Mercat Bocqueria and lounged in the sunshine on their rooftop overlooking the city. I also got a chance to grab a goodbye drink with my friend Anais on my last night. I can’t begin to imagine my trip without my Barcelona friends. They made me feel at home from the very start and, without knowing it, set the tone for my entire trip. Their willingness to share their lives helped to make it the wonderful experience that it was.
Coming back to New York City only reinforces what I learned along this journey – that with simplicity comes joy. And New York City is many things, but simple is not one of them. So, I am heading back to Seattle on Monday to think and plot my next move. I am determined to channel the positive energy I’ve gained into something worthwhile. I have loved learning about and growing the food we eat, meeting all kinds of people and listening to their stories, and writing it down to process all that I have experienced. I will continue to do all of these things wherever I go from now on. This is just the beginning.