|The Fives garden|
One of the 6 housemates, a reclusive middle-aged woman, was horrified with some of our efforts to "dewild" the garden - even though she herself is a gardener. We cut down part of the tree to make room for sunlight for the raised bed, which we filled with compost from the cleaned-up compost pile. By "we," I mean mostly the 30-year-old gardening enthusiast.
I was gearing up for summer travels, which started in May. And Marine and I were planning a cycling trip to Bruges. Before that, the Cyclotour happened. I saw a flyer one day at Cafe Citoyen and knew that I wanted to ride at least part of the way, even though I couldn't do the full, intensive 2 weeks. It was a great chance to see the Northern France countryside and even a bit of wandering over the Belgian border. And I could get a deeper understanding of sustainable farming efforts in the region, from which we were all removed while living in the city of Lille.
So directly after my last day of teaching, I joined another housemate and her partner on a mini-leg of the tour.
I wish I had the right language to convey the simultaneous feelings of excitement, peaceful enjoyment of country cycling but also being out of my element. I sense that oftentimes while living in France, I underestimated the communication barrier, assuming that my level of French was enough to overcome all language and culture differences. Despite my keen interest in sustainable farming and preserving rural life, I felt that I couldn't understand or connect with all of the farm visits to the maximum. Greenhouses, goats, trees, yurts, young people in a collective house, older couples working for generations - a great diversity!
Because the Cyclotour sparked so much interest, I came back for a few days a week later which was ultimately a good idea. I directly followed it with a semi-spontaneous day of filming on my housemate's family farm. In retrospect, I made the whole experience far more stressful for myself than was necessary. Over two weeks, I crammed in pieces of this moving cycling collective, frantically preparing for summer travels and my imminent departure from Europe! Obviously too much. Knowing myself as an easily stressed individual, it was terrible planning which led to a near nervous breakdown by the last week in April, the last part of the tour. Too many strangers. Too much activity. Of course, all was beautiful and I absolutely loved the farms and the countryside on two wheels. It's a good thing there is still so much more time and opportunity to do this in Korea and elsewhere!