Vicarious Travel Log #5: France Part 2

This is the 5th installment of my mother’s travel journal that she’s sharing with me here on T-Lex.  They’ve moved on to Switzerland now, and there are some new pictures up in their Flickr stream (see below, and click to access entire photo stream).  If you’ve missed the other parts, you can check them out here.

Laurent's House in Croussac

August 21, 2010.   Croussac.

30 degrees and sunny.


Yesterday the baby swallows learned to fly. Up until now they were triangular yellow mouths demanding gratification from their tireless parents who swooped in and out of the barn window following a flight path out over the valley around and back. Perhaps every mission was successful though there is no evidence of fewer bugs. The parent swallows chose well for the first flight day. It was warm and very calm. Where before we had seen only two birds working tirelessly to feed their brood, now there was a flutter of them playing in the sky, flopping frantic wings and getting the hang of gliding. We watched as they made their re-entry into the barn. After the sky, the entrance through a half open window is like threading a needle. There were several close calls but all seemed to get the idea and the fact. What if raising our children were like that … an intense period of feeding demanding mouths, one flying lesson, and they’re away. Oops – I just heard the demanding chirps in the barn. The first lessons are just flying. Flying AND catching dinner comes later. Fair enough.


In Europe (at least in France and Germany) pharmacies are for drugs and perfume. All the other stuff we buy at drugstores – toothpaste, shampoo, hair gel, make-up – you buy at another store. Pharmacies are for drugs (herbal treatments as well) and for some bizarre reason, perfume. All over France you can easily spy, because there are so many of them, the green neon cross that indicates a pharmacy. We went into one in Tulle a couple of days ago. I may as well tell you what we wanted ‘cause half of France knows. We have reached an age where we like to keep some regular habits. To this end (oh dear) we take dietary fibre supplements. This sort of thing you locate in the aisles of Shopper’s Drug Mart, throw it into your shopping cart and you’re off. In the French pharmacy you are greeted by one of many white coated helpers who ask you in a loud voice what he/she can do to help you. You are not allowed to touch anything in the store (but the perfume) and most of the wares are secreted away behind shelves of (you got it) perfume. Since Beaudelaire never addressed the importance of regular evacuation of one’s bowels, the vocabulary for psyllium husks eluded me. (Turns out in French it is psyllium.) I was directed to the “one who spoke English”. She proceeded to say very loudly and in very broken English and mostly French what the solution is for constipation. By then everyone in the store was looking benignly at us and I, being the supportive wife I am, turned to Michael and asked which of the proffered options (none of which was really what we wanted) HE wanted. After that I asked for aspirin ‘cause I really needed one and was quickly offered a package of 10 extra strength which turned out to be the sort you dissolve in water. North America could certainly show Europe how to buy drugs.

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