In our little corner of France, 2015 has been a very good year. Our life is simple but we are surrounded by nature, friends and animals that enrich our lives. There have been marvelous surprises, lots of hard work, and moments of bliss. My daughter, Ashlyn, and granddaughter, Sailla, came for a nice long visit. This was “bliss” for me. Our project to build a gypsy wagon became a reality thanks to many hours of study and work, and enormous input from friends. Without this interaction, it would have been impossible. A huge thank you to everyone who has given us valuable information, gifts and help just at the moment we needed it. A huge thank you to those of you who have taken the time to read this blog and especially all of you who have left a comment.

Tòti is sleeping through the winter in the safety of our friends' garage and we are relaxing a bit knowing that we have built a functional wagon. We were never truly certain of anything until the trial trip. There is still much to do but the most difficult is done. Spring and summer 2016 will find us back at work and making some short trips with “Vanille power”.

Our powerhorse, Vanille, is resting through the winter in a pasture near our house and I am able to visit her often during the day. She loves the attention! We are developing a loving and trusting relationship. She is very respectful of the electric fence which will be a very important asset when we travel. She seems happy enough living alone. There are sheep in the nearby fields, tractors and dogs to take her attention. We visit her several times a day, take her out on a leadline, etc.


I finally finished painting the gussets that will support the front roof overhang. They are made from rough Ash planks that Mark planed and glued together. I drew the design, cut them out with a jig saw and carved them to give some relief. I used Acrylic paint but will need to put several coats of exterior varnish on them before installing. They are the same on both sides.

I've been thinking a lot about our animals, just how important they are. When I wake in the morning and look out the window, there are three sheep grazing in the garden behind the house…..and I smile.

Later the chickens are let out and the garden comes alive with feathered jewels. It is a feast for my eyes and of course they gift us with eggs.

As I arrive downstairs, Bella is just waking up, her tail is thumping on the cushions and she leaps up to say good morning. The cats Ambre and Chat Noir stroll along with us when we go out for our short morning walk. I enjoy the dawn hours with my coffee and toast, snuggled on the sofa with Bella beside me. There is always one bite for me and one for Bella. Then off we go to give Vanille her morning treat. Bella runs ahead and finds Vanille to tell her I'm on my way. I love seeing Vanille coming at a gallop with Bella bounding beside her. I clean up her pasture while throwing sticks for Bella. The manure is saved for the vegetable garden.

Every day I must get up in the morning and I must go outside and I must take several walks with Bella. I must take the time to brush and love Vanille. I'm sure this would not make everyone happy but these are bright and shining moments for me. I'm closer to nature, witnessing the early morning sky, the freshness of the air and the birdsong. I can't spend a moment with these animals without smiling. They are my anti depressants, and my constant joy. The daily closeness with them makes me more aware of the surrounding beauty and takes my mind off of mundane tasks that are waiting, world news that is too often horrifying, and the stressful situations of life.

There are screws holding my back together and my knee is titanium. Pain is my close companion. However, when I am brushing Vanille or walking in the forest with Bella, nothing hurts. When I am riding through the forest in the caleche pulled by Vanille, nothing else exists except the gorgeous moment and… there is no pain! This amazes me and I don't understand it but I swear it is true. Does happiness, doing something we love stop pain or is it the energy that these animals bestow upon us that momentarily stops pain. Any ideas? Would anyone like to share their experiences with me?

A friend shared this with me. The study concerns horses but I think it is true for all animals be their hearts large or small.

We wish you a very merry holiday season filled with friends, good food, and joy in abundance!!




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.
This entry was posted in Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 2015

  1. N2 says:

    What a wonderful end of the year letter – truly heartwarming! Sending love from a cold and rainy California winter where we and our gardens are grateful for the rain. x0x0 N2

  2. Ann Marquis says:

    Suzanne, I know that there are hardships on the mountain, but your life looks and sounds quite lovely. Merry Christmas to you and Mark and family..

  3. Suzanne says:

    Thank you dear wonderful daughter!

  4. sonja says:

    i love your blog, your pictures and your comments, and especially you and your beautiful animals, sharing your life with everyone, you are amazing! love you, sonja

  5. Ashlyn says:

    A truth so close to my heart! You passed this love of animals and nature on to us as little children and it is ever a huge part of who we are today. Thank you, Mom.

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