October’s Gifts


Returning from my early morning walk with Bella, I empty my pockets and lay the forest’s gifts of this October day on the table. They are not brightly colored like summer’s flowers nor are they the golden leaves that will soon be scattered on the earth, but they are just as beautiful to me. Their subtle colors speak to me of the earth’s richness.

In this unspoilt wood where I roam, there are signs of the wildlife who dine on the chestnuts and acorns while I am asleep. I was lucky to find a few chestnuts as they are the wild boar’s favorite food, and the badgers are stealing the walnuts as fast as they tumble from the tree. Bella is ecstatic with the fallen branches that are her favorite toys, and I fill my basket with kindling for our wood stove.

Although a hail storm caused some damage, we had a very special October harvest from the vegetable garden; more than 500 pounds of winter squash from four small plants. I believe this miracle to be the result of the love that I bestow on this patch of earth, and because I tell the plants how wonderful they are. Mark insists it is because we covered the garden with manure from the sheep barn. I find my explanation far more romantic. It was fun to weigh each squash and marvel at the weight. The biggest weighed 50 pounds. We loaded up the truck and distributed most of them to friends and neighbors. The remainder will be made into soups, pies, curries, and anything I can dream up.


We have glued the first side wall to the frame and now we are ready to do the second one. There are a number of steps involved and I am daily learning something new.  I have asked Mark to write about the method he is using in case you are interested in building a caravan. Look for a posting by Mark on this blog soon.

We hope to be assembling the walls and roof in place on the chassis sometime in November. This moment has been a problem looming on the horizon because the garage we are working in now does not have the headroom for the height of Tòti once her hat is on. But another gift has arrived! Our friends who live nearby have generously offered to lend us their garage for that step in the construction. Once everything is together and painted we will be able to leave Tòti outside.

Our friend Jean François invited us to visit his horse, a 5 year old Comtois mare named Vanille. I just fell in love with her. She is the perfect size, very strong and obviously sweet natured. I had brought her a couple of apples and she bit into them ever so gently. The Comtois horse is an ancient breed of horse. It is believed they were brought to France from northern Germany in the 4th century. It is a light draft horse standing between 14 and 16 hands high. They are always chestnut with flaxen mane and tail. If I could find two of these horses, I think they would be perfect for Tòti Bleu. The Fjord horses are my first love, but they are more difficult to find in our region of France. I would like to have two horses for several reasons; two horses working together reassure each other if there is a problem, they are happier together in the pasture as well, and if there is a hill to be climbed, I will be sure to have enough horsepower to make the climb without stressing the horses. I am also hoping to find horses that have already worked together to be sure they know and like each other. Jean François also took the time to explain in detail various important points for the care and shoeing of a draft horse. His willingness to share his knowledge is an invaluable gift.

This is the view we would have while traveling. What a powerful small horse! The Comtois is used for pulling logs in the forest in France as well as working in the vineyards.

After visiting the Mirepoix market and finding this lovely man selling fabrics from Rajasthan, I can feel the gypsy in my soul starting to break free. Well, it’s never too late! When I wear the skirt I bought, I feel transformed. If you are at the Mirepoix market, don’t miss the treasures from India he is selling at very reasonable prices. I’m sure I will need a few more things when decorating Tòti.


A gift from Caleb and Natasha arrived a few days ago; the fabric for the ceiling over the bed in Tòti. What sweet dreams we will have! The box containing the fabric had a squeaky ball for Bella tucked into the corner, and beautiful photos of our friends Caleb and Natasha.


As you read this blog, I’m sure you notice how important our friends are and how much we love them. Another gift of friendship arrived last week with the visit of the Roulotte Papillotte family. As they pulled up in front of our house in their car, our friend Jean François arrived unexpectedly in his beautiful “caleche” pulled by his Merens horse.

They brought us one of André’s custom made wood stoves for Toti.  Their visit was already a gift but we will treasure this little stove which is perfect for Toti.

During their visit and our trip to Albi, André took many photos, so if you’re interested, take a look at their blog soon. roulottepapillotte.wordpress.com

My favorite book at the moment, recommended by my daughter Dana:

The Intention Experiment, Using your Thoughts to Change your Life

by Lynne McTaggart



About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
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