My night had been very choppy. The wind was blowing hard and the rain was lashing the shutters all night long. Not that I am worried about the bad weather. It is so noisy and it’s been very stormy for the past ten days without reprieve.
So there I was. Up in a few seconds. Jumping into a pair of jeans. Ready to meet the roofer... with a smile on my face. He is our new roofer and he was quite hard to get in touch with! (We live in a world where lots of graduates are looking for a job, quite desperately and where you can’t find a good roofer any longer.)
Well, to make the story short, the sore water mark on the wall is due to our aging roof... so ancient (1963) that well, well, well... it will have to be totally redone... The good thing is that we’ll end up owning a brand new house with all the refurbishing done for the past four years. The good thing is that it is much safer to have a brand new slate roof when we know that hurricanes do hit Brittany from time to time. The bad thing is, well, you know... the very idea of having your roof redone!
After the roofer, a very nice man by the way, was finished with taking the measurements, I offered him a cup of coffee. Hard job, being a roofer. Because it kept on raining hard while he was up there but it did not seem to bother him too much. He was quite cheerful actually!
While he was drinking his coffee, he started me talking about the house. Actually he asked questions. At first because he needed to know a few things about the roof then he got interested in learning why people like us (i.e. not from Brittany) had chosen to live in such an isolated place even though he kept swooning over the view.
He finally left. By then I was totally awake but there were one hundred things to do before I could go down and take my daily walk on the beach.
While I was busy, I started reminiscing about our life here ever since 1987. The way the house looked the day we discovered it. The way it had been throughout the years, filled with children and friends and cats and dogs. The way it had looked for one year while the refurbishing was going on in 2009. The way... The way...
This is how it goes once you have lived in the same place for almost 25 years (a very unusually long time for Popeye and me). Things change and you get used to them. You forget and then the memories come back.
All it took was one friendly roofer in my living room, this morning.
But the real trip down to ‘memory lane’ started when I went down to the beach. This year, I have been walking all over that beach many, many times. But today was a little bit different.
When we bought Les Tertres, Swee’ Pea and his friends were happy with spending long hours on the beach below building sand castles or swimming there as early as Easter and sometimes as late as October. Then they would climb back to the house and fool around the house, the “garden” and the woods.
In the summertime, there was a lot of boating and wakeboarding (a few years later). And we made sure that our kids spent at least a couple of weeks (five mornings or afternoons per week) every summer at the local sailing school. Brittany is all about sailboats after all.
Came a time when they all grew up and they wanted action, more action all the time, especially when it was too rough to go boating. That’s the way they all went crazy about land-sailing (sand-yachting). So close to real sailing! Only safer during the winter, the parents said!
No wonder it had been selected for sand-yachting championships, years ago. So our boys (and girls) would watch the champs and then come home with dreamy eyes.
Popeye knows how to live around teenagers. He studied catalogs upon catalogs of sand-yachting. (This was BI time - Before Internet!) And then one day, he told Swee’ Pea: “Ok. I think I just found your Christmas gift.”
We all drove down to Southern Brittany to buy the new wonder. And we brought it home on top of our old Renault.
The boys (and girls) were having the time of their life - another one that is.
The day they took it down to the beach for the try out was a grand moment.
There was a fierce gale. Even though they did know pretty well how to sail, steering this wild machine proved to be quite tough. Popeye had provided a crash helmet and gloves. I had made sure they were wearing their sailing clothes. It was windy and wet and cold. And you have to realize that once started, the land-sail could go over 40 miles per hour.
Wet sand is hard to land on and driving right into the sea could prove quite freezing.
But they loved every minute of it. So much that when Fall came, sand-yachting became a ‘must’. Until Spring that is. Because as soon as the beach started to be filled with people, it became too risky to sail for obvious reasons.
This afternoon, I happened to notice a group of young children who were learning how to land-sail. Actually there is a land-sailing school right on the beach at low tide. The municipality created it a while ago. But today I saw how young the children were. Some parents were there too along with the instructor.
And there I was... years back... in the 90s. Watching my son and his friends, all of them teenagers, picking up the tricks on their own, making mistakes and learning from them, having a ball on this very beach. It all seemed so far away and yet I did remember all the fun. Because it had been a lot of fun and very impressive too.
Don’t ask me if I did ride Swee’ Pea’s land-sail. The answer is evident. I do not know my right from my left, starboard from port side... which is what sailing is all about anyway. You are playing the wind and then it gets quite technical. Too technical for me.
This afternoon, I watched the children and then I drove back home since I no longer use our narrow path from the top of the cliff to get down to the beach.
Swee’ Pea’s beautiful sand-yacht is in the basement, ready to go. Almost. The main problem being that no one is here to ride it any more.
From roof to land-sailing... The connection between the two is not this obvious, I know but today was like memories piling upon memories! And my day went by. A happy day, by the way.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*