I was asked many times over the years: “Do I miss France?” This is not a quick “Yes” or “No” answer . . . “sometimes, of course,” but . . . as I look back: the people, the places I loved, are not there to see any more! . . we cannot go back in years, times or places. I can never see again the old small country roads, open spaces and fields of crops that I knew long ago. . .
Our old farm “La Tireuse”, modest and serene, but strong, nested right next to the park and chateau de Panloup, is still standing. A long brick wall was the only dividing line between the park and our property. “La Tireuse” now has a different look; it stands like a small fortress missing its entourage, enclosures of farm buildings, large and small . . .
I can still picture grandfather Relin, wearing his gardener’s apron, tending his vegetables and loving it. I miss the small simple pleasures, the spring time, the fun of picking cherries . . . perched on top of a ladder . . . “La veillée”, the time for evening gathering after the dinner until bedtime, were hours spent with family, especially in the long winter nights: listening to the radio, the men smoking while reading, the women knitting or mending; sometimes Papa and I would be playing a game of checkers. These are only a very few of the countless enjoyable times of a more simple life we no longer have—adding to this the tremendous changes in the aspects of our landscape—modern times, progress, and advanced technology are taking away the charm and characteristics from all individual countries, slowly becoming a uniform world.
I like to remember the area of France as it was in the years when I was growing up. This is what I miss . . .
. . . more than half of a century
and half a world away . . .
Suzanne Catard Parks grew up on a small cattle farm in the Allier region of France. Her experiences of life on the farm and during the German occupation of World War II offer a unique perspective.