Hi from a barge in Burgundy
No matter where I go, here I am.
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I’m in a very slow moving, very beautiful hotel barge right outside of Dijon. It’s my last full day here before we head back to Paris for one night only, and then back home sweet home.
These are times I teared up in the last week (including, but not limited to):
Saying goodbye to my kids, Julius and Simone, who are 18 months and 3 years old. (It’s hard saying bye to my cute husband Tony and dog Ace, too, but there is something about leaving the babies that is a hard tug directly in my heart!)
Sitting on the plane, taking off, heading across the Atlantic away from them for A WHOLE WEEK. My longest trip before this was 48 hours. To be fair, this wasn’t so much tearing up as a full on sob. The nice young man sitting next to me asked me if I was ok.
Watching the Whitney Houston movie on the plane. (Is it just me or do planes make everything feel emotionally heightened?)
Visiting the stunning Alain Hess fromagerie in Beaune. OMG. What my cheese dreams are made of.
Entering the Les Halles Market in Dijon. Baskets of fat asparagus, whole wheels of Comte, little buttons of chevre, so many terrines in all shape and sizes, craggy strings of sausages, crimson strawberries, mountains of champignon, and unspeakable joy.
Saying goodnight after Facetiming with my fam, wishing I could squeeze them but being several thousand miles away.
Getting to try my first bite of raw milk Epoisses, one of my favorite cheeses of all time at Gaugry Fromager. We don’t get the raw milk version in the US so this felt very special. They call it “the French kiss.” It tastes of garlic and silk and barnyard and soul. The flavor just went on and on. And on.
The stars up in the sky.
The luxury of getting to stay in bed and read.
This trip has been a study in holding multiple truths. One truth is that I am deeply grateful to be here, on this slow boat in the green countryside. My body is fed with cheese and wine (plus gougeres, Kir Royale, escargot, Oeuf en Meurette (which is like Beef Bourguignon but with a poached egg instead of beef), and other local delicacies). My heart is full with the rare luxury of time, something exotic for me in this season of my life. I have been writing in my journal every day. I sit at the table for three meals. I linger for espresso, and conversation. I walk, I read, I look at medieval castles, I rest.
The other truth is that I still have my brain. I still wake up feeling anxious, and go to sleep feeling anxious. Wherever you go, there you are, or so they say. I feel guilty about being here while my partner juggles work and parenting and life without a partner. Missing my family comes over me steamroller style, and I have to stop and catch my breath.
In 48 hours, I’ll be back packing lunches, wrestling a toddler into a diaper, and checking the time to see if I can wrap up writing a press release before preschool pickup. So for 48 hours, I’m going to take every opportunity I have to stop and smell the Burgundy.
I’m thinking a lot about what keeps bringing me back and back again to my passion for cheese and food. Sure, it’s delicious. And just beyond the deliciousness, there’s all that ineffable power of brining people together, of connection, of joy. There’s history, culture, terroir, and a place that is not exactly like any other place in the world. There’s a young woman or an old man rolling a gigantic wheel of cheese out of the cave, cleaning out a barrel of wine, putting something new into the oven, a little piece of their heart and a little leap of faith.
This is the Grand Cru, my beautiful home for the past week, which makes its way oh so slowly - slower than a leisurely walking pace - down the Canal de Bourgogne.