Our wintery neighborhood
We had an eventful Christmas week spent with our local family. So much was enjoyed and shared together that it would take several blog posts to recount all our adventures, so I will mainly focus on one of them. It was Quinn's second Christmas and he got right into the spirit of things. Emily spent a great deal of time making presents for everyone. Adric organized three wonderful activities for us to participate in. One involved taking photographs of stories we all acted out, another was a series of impressions we wrote about one another and the last was a crafts project we participated in together in the studio. He put all these mementos into a beautiful book and presented them to us on Christmas.
James offered us a Christmas eve treasure hunt/adventure that took us out into the snowy world. We came downstairs to discover an envelope which had a map, a quote, a comment and a clue:
Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight lines, triangles, squares, pentagons, hexagons and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows--only hard with luminous edges--and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe;" but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things. --Edwin A. Abbott
We're all points on a map, when it comes down to it. Today our maps converge here. This morning, shall we chart new territory?
It's hard to imagine how all our maps crossed here. They just, well, they did. In this country of little hills and little towns with little churches. So many little hills, and so many towns and churches. It seems there's always time to discover more. This little church is in a little town which is not half as charming as the little church itself.
There was also a photo with a town name just visible. From this we searched the provided map and headed off to our first stop.
Emily and Rick discover our first destination
Quinn is dressed and ready for the adventure
We drove to an adorable 11th century church in a village we had never visited named St. Georges du Rosay. The church was turreted and had a lovely statue of St. George above the doorway.
Emily discovered the next clue nestled under the plaque mounted on the church wall. James had gotten up early that morning and hidden clues along our way. Each one led to the next location. Each destination was something special and almost all unknown to us before this day and, as we came to realize, each also represented one of us.
Our second destination was a feudal motte. Rick found a clue hidden in the ivy nearby.
Next stop a snowy pasture full of horses. Quinn had a nice conversation with one as the others looked on.
By now it was mid-afternoon. Our next stop was La Perrière, one of the most charming hilltop villages of the Perche, where we had a wonderful long lunch in a place we love called Maison d'Horbé. It is a restaurant, salon de thê, fancy food boutique and antique store all in one.
Quinn was enthralled with all there was to see.
The shop is always overflowing with interesting knick knacks.
This time of year, beautifully decorated for the holidays.
Quinn tried on a lovely red hat.
After lingering well into the late afternoon, the waitress handed us another clue and off we went. This time to discover a prehistoric dolmen.
These stones were stacked together thousands of years ago and are thought to have been a kind of ancient communication point. For us they revealed yet another clue.
Our last destination of this memorable Christmas eve was a beautiful château, which we reached through a narrow forest track. The windows were aglow, another family gathering to celebrate the season.
Our last clue took us back to Maison Conti. The sun was just setting as we turned our car towards home, with even more fun and adventure in store for us.
Whenever the family gets together, a great deal of cooking and eating always takes place. We all dream up our favorite meals and take turns sharing them with one another. Everyone helps out. Our week included some exceptional meals. Adric cooked up a traditional Filipino feast, including a delicious fresh shrimp and mint salad, chicken adobo and tilapia followed by pineapple upside down cake. Jos made us sauerkraut and German sausages one night and a fabulous minestrone another. Rick made a particularly delicious roast beef. I offered homemade bagels with lox and cream cheese for one breakfast, eggs Benedict for another and New York Goodwich sandwiches for lunch one day. Christmas dinner was a platter of shellfish, fresh from the sea served with Rick's excellent potato leek soup, accompanied by a memorable bottle of Marsannay (from Jos) and finished with a box of Mont d'Or which had been nestled in the coals of the fire until it was as soft as fondue.
Quinn was amazed and delighted by Christmas. He was quite surprised to find an electric train running under the tree on Christmas morning, and the stocking he had hung by the chimney with care the night before was magically filled up with all kinds of wonders.
Holidays over, family departed, the sun rises this morning on another snowy week. Our last one in this wonderful year.