It is the lock keeper's house where we housesat during the floods. But now the weather is gorgeous and French people pull up in their cars and park along the lock to enjoy the sun reflecting off the water.
|Some actual lily pads|
|The boat enters the lock where the water is higher and must lower the water to move to the next part of the river.|
When I was inside the house, the woman who drove the yellow van came to the door and asked if the owners were home. I said no they had gone on vacation. The woman said they had met the homeowners and tried to call them but she thought she had the wrong number.
I gave her the correct phone number and the woman continued to chat. She said her husband would be very excited to meet us because he loves America. And a few minutes later, he showed up at the door and began to speak about Chicago and the Indianapolis 500, along with their yearly Christmas trips to "Vegas."
They seemed nice and they said that the homeowners had previously allowed them to picnic under the weeping willow at the end of the garden. We shrugged and said that was fine. And could they also use the boules court in the yard?
I told them Earl had always wanted to learn to play boules and they said they would love to include him. Then they invited us for an aperitif before their picnic.
When we wandered down for an aperitif, Beatrice and Pierre had several friends and grown children with them, probably 15-20 people gathered beside the river with a table, an umbrella, lounge chairs and folding chairs. We were quickly given a glass of rosé, technically "gris" Pierre explained since only a certain type of grape grown near Avignon count as real rosé grapes. The rules about French wine are baffling to me so I nodded my head.
We talked about Mustangs and movies and music and all seemed to be going well, until Pierre mentioned that France has too many Muslims. "I don't like zee muslims," he said.
That was a conversation stopper for us. I tried to point out that the U.S. has many Muslims, too, and he loves the U.S.
Pierre moved on to a different topic, hopefully realizing that we were not a receptive audience for Muslim bashing. I sat a few more minutes then moved to talk to a young couple in the group before saying we should go back to the house to let them have their picnic.
We walked up the drive past the sparkling canal hand in hand.
"And things were going so well," I said.
"Yeah," Earl agreed.
We'd said we would return to play boules, but the thrill had faded.
Our first attempt at new French friends was not a success, but we know not all French are prejudiced against Muslims, just as not all Americans are prejudiced about certain races or religions.
We won't give up.