A few years ago, when I lived in another hamlet deep in the heart of rural France, I had a neighbour who was a true peasant. In the Western world the word ‘peasant’ is often used as a derogatory term but - as was also the case with our previous neighbour in the hills of Wales a decade before - they are hard-working people of the country, being connected to the land from birth and, importantly, intensely proud of it.
Both those men, from both countries, never owned a car... using an ancient tractor once a week to go to market; worked the land at their own pace... which seemed slow, but continued throughout the day with hardly a break; and were frugal... I can’t express their different accents here but each in their own tongue would state that they couldn’t abide waste.
I thought to do Lucien the honour of a few photographs selected from hundreds I took of him over the years. His days were always the same... gather nuts, mushrooms and check the traps for anything caught for the cooking pot; walk around the small-holding repairing anything that had been blown over during the night; selecting and sawing the logs for the fire and stove; honing the tools for keeping the plot in order; and downing a few glasses of his own wine with a few friends in the evening after the day’s work had been done.
It was basically the same day after day, year in year out... a simple life, but one full of satisfaction and wanting nothing. Lucien is now in the great vineyard in the sky... but I imagine he’s still looking down on his patch of France smiling and thinking about the simple, but satisfying life he had.