Sigh.

I received my French citizenship (at last) amongst the recent horrific terrorist attacks in France. Many people have been asking about the current ambiance here …..well…life just seems to go on…as do the attacks. Sigh.

Perhaps the craziness surrounding us – all over the globe -has nothing to do with religious, racial or political beliefs. Perhaps much can be explained by the concept of ‘self and other’ (see my last post) and also by the fact that there are desperate individuals in the community who are not fitting-in (or dropping-out of) their networks of friends/families/colleagues and just don’t have the skills to rectify the situation. Skills and abilities such as: calmness; asking for help; empathy and compassion; listening; curiosity; a growth mindset; a respect for self, others and nature; forgiveness;……..  Skills that can (and should) be nurtured at a young age…at home, at *school and in the community. Skills certainly more basic and fundamentally important than reading, writing and arithmetic. Skills that, as individual members of society, we might focus on in our communities. I think back to that much cited quote “Think globally: Act locally”.

Speaking of local, I shift my focus back to summer here in La Vendee. We have been blessed by a visit from our dear friend Nicolas (with whom I spent numerous afternoons on sunny terraces in Grenoble reviewing my new French vocabulary….and drinking coffee).

As the school holidays (all 8 weeks of them) have begun we have taken advantage of seeing friends and some of the sites that La Vendee has to offer including the beaches, salt marshes, coastal pine forests and the child-friendly Chabotterie Logis chateau and the Historial de la Vendee – both which focus especially on the **Vendee War.

I have also been busy delectably degusting the season’s offerings including cherry clafoutis and seafood. I also finally got the chance to taste a local speciality – grilled eel. It was precisely at the moment of it being served that Sebastien casually mentioned that eel really wasn’t that good and indeed it was a ‘muddy’ disappointment.

Now I wish a Happy 80th birthday to my dear dad – who is encouraged to wing himself over here for a plate or two of oysters.

* There are teachers who understand the importance of developing social and emotional intelligence and my children were lucky enough to have had one in Santa Barbara – Juliette http://www.earthandskysb.com/

**I described the pride of the Vendee folk in a previous post (Oct 2015). Here’s a very crude summary of what happened around the time of the revolution once the king’s head had been chopped off: The monarchies surrounding France were worried that their heads would soon be rolling and so declared war on France. The French Revolutionary Army lacked manpower to defend all of the French borders and so conscripted tens of thousands of men to join their cause – but numerous parts of France (La Vendee included) were pro-king and pro-church and refused to join. And so a violent civil war erupted.