I live in a village. Cancale proper is a town of about 6000 people, but le Port de la Houle is a little warren of narrow streets and stone houses with a year-round population of no more than one hundred. That doubles in the summer when the vacation homes and rentals fill up, but pre-season, post-season, and off-season, it’s just us neighbors, a familiar bunch of characters who greet each other in passing (or not…there are some deep-seeded family feuds and recent, irrevocable slights that mean some individuals don’t speak to others) and linger in the road and chat when the occasion arises and the weather is fine.
And the weather has been fine of late. I can’t seem to step out of the house or even look out a window encountering somebody to greet or talk to.
Just now, as I was writing this, I heard a baritone voice singing out front. And there was O. a retired fisherman, walking home after an early evening helping out at one of the cafés. His voice was deep and carried the tune well, so naturally, I had to pop my head out to say good evening (bonsoir) and tell him I liked his singing. (I’d never heard him sing before.) We bantered about the new, rather large planters I’ve just installed on the sidewalk in front of my house—‘Pretty soon, you’re going to have to pay a patio tax like the cafés do,’ O. joked. Then he loped on his way, picking up the tune from the beginning.
I never thought this would be the life for me. Before Cancale, I always lived in mid-sized and large cities, reveling in the energy, diversity and, above all, anonymity. Now, I LEAN OUT A WINDOW to engage a passerby. It’s a life so simple, so astonishing lovely, and so endlessly entertaining (Who needs television when you’ve got your very own French village series unfolding every minute of every day just outside your door?), that I can’t help but want to share it. I can’t guarantee that all the entries in this ‘Cancale Chronicles’ blog thread will have the same la vie en rose tone of a summer evening and a singing fisherman, but I promise to try to keep the entries about everyday life as entertaining to read as they are to live. 7 June 2017