Thursday, August 15, 2013

Halfway

I have been here 10 days; I have been here always. I found it very easy to fit into the schedule here, spending my mornings culturing renneting stirring molding salting turning cheeses, and cleaning, always cleaning the forms and the table, the racks and the meshes, the buckets and ladles and floor and walls. I even enjoy the cleaning, something which will astound people who know me and the dusty disarray I'm comfortable with in my own house. But in the cheeseroom, everything must be impeccably clean, or as close as possible.

There are drawbacks, of course; today when I was scrubbing one of the trays that catches the whey that drips down from the racks of young cheeses, I sliced the top of my thumb open, which wasn't much fun at all. I'm lucky that Laetitia had antiseptic spray and bandages at hand, and also that I did all of the pressed-curd cheeses yesterday, which would have been impossible (and icky) to make with a bandaged thumb.

This is what I had planned in the beginning, this staying with people and helping them make cheese part of the day, and using the rest of the time to do freelance work and blogging and my own writing projects. I am so content these days that it tells me that this is what I should be doing, and that this particular path is one that I will be walking for a while, if all goes well.

One of the ways that I've considered making my niche is by being the house-and-cheeseroom-and-goat-sitter for small-scale producers, because they never get a vacation, if they milk their own animals. The enthusiastic responses I've had from the two cheesemakers I've worked for (both of whom want to be first on the list when I start taking clients) tells me that this is also a viable option. I need to learn more of the cheesemaking basics first, and get them in my head, so that I can step into an operation only a day or two before the owners leave. A week would be ideal if they make more than one style of cheese.

And of course, living in France is not a bad thing in and of itself, all things considered! Now that I'm spending more time talking on a daily basis, my fluency is improving, and I think after this next year of school and work I might be at a level where I can think about providing translation services. We had a woman from New Zealand visiting here the other day who didn't speak French, so I was kept busy facilitating communication on the farm and fromagerie tour.

And now? I'm taking the rest of the day off. It's a jour férié in any event, the Feast of the Assumption, and no one else is working either. Grilled steak and sausage with rice salad and fried eggplant made a lovely lunch, and now I'm going to read silly books and relax. Maybe I'll even take a nap. Life is good.

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