Thursday, December 14, 2006

The School Run

My youngest starts school at from 8.20 to 8.40am. I start work (theoretically) at 8.30am. If I get the time right, we can both be on time. Invariably, however, I'm 10mins late.

The school run is much shorter than it used to be when I had to take my eldest to school in our old village. He now walks five minutes down the road, and loves the feeling of independence it gives him.

I start the working day at this time of year by scraping the car windows. My beloved Peugeot does not live in the garage as it is full of stuff; stuff I'd dearly love to bin except that, well, you never know when it'll come in handy, contains souvenirs of baby- and childhood, photos, tools, the old pram kept for when the boys want to make a go-kart, sledges, bikes, extraneous kitchen stuff, teddies, and a laundry basket. To name but a few. Thus, no room for the car.

Having cleared the windows, with my youngest strapped safely in, I start the car and back out, up the perilous hill. The morning sun is low but illuminates the tops of the pine trees in the wood outside the house in an orangey glow. It heralds the start of another beautiful day.

We drive passed generously-proportioned houses with their well-kept gardens, over sleeping policemen bumps to keep us at a stately 50km/hr, channelled along by islands in the road just in case we might think of overtaking a bus of schoolchildren, or a sans permis car, or even a bike. It's best not to be in too much of a hurry. You can guarantee, in that case, that you'll get stuck behind a digger making it's way to one of the many chantiers to build yet another luxury mansion.

Just as we pass the end of the village, we turn left. Fields of horses lie frostily on one side, elegant houses with expensively kept green lawns on the other. We then pass an untidy wood with a 'witch's broom' amidst the branches at the top of one pine, signs indicating 'terrain de chasse', and a couple of post boxes which intrigue me. Who lives down this earthen track, far enough from the road to be invisible, as though in the middle of nowhere except they are a stone's throw from one of the smartest villas in the village?

We usually take the low road, although we could take the high road and pass over the hill, the houses nestling in pine forest; a shady spot in the height of summer.

I leave my youngest at school after he's written his name on the cantine list, and navigate my way past arriving mothers in SUVs who park where they want, open doors widely, and take up half the road with the width of their buses. The journey to work takes a mere five minutes, but I drive past vineyards, over a stone bridge, admire the view of the Pic St Loup, pass the cave cooperative which smells very boozy in the autumn and along roads lined with plane trees.

I encounter not one traffic light and no traffic jams; just visual delights and a pleasant drive. Really, it's a most agreeable way to start the day, especially as it's sunny 340 out of 365 (if you believe the regional blurb) days per year. Yeah!

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