WWOOFing at le Chateau: Days 2 & 3

October 2nd Day 2

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“Over a now steady drizzle the occasional bird sings. All day, it’s been chilly and grey, and just after we finished our afternoon tasks, the rain began. Aside from the chirps and drops, it’s silent, and soothing. There’s a nostalgia to it.” I wrote in my notes.

“Where are the pockets?” I asked. “This is a different game” Hermine explained the rules of “3 ball billiards” to me and Minha. I’d seen a table like it only once, in my Korean dorm during EPIK orientation. Funny the things that bring you back.

We’d just finished a rather bland dinner of an egg and potato omlet with bread. The day was much the same. Cloudy, grey, and uneventful. In the morning, I trimmed the ivy around the Chateau. Shortly after, it began to rain.

Confined inside, for the rest of the day, Hermine did her best to keep us occupied. In the kitchen, we cracked walnuts and pealed pears. With the smell of burning wood from the stove and the chill outside, it felt sort of like a holiday.

The Merlot was deliciously dry. Hermine poured our glasses tall and offered seconds as she explained the game. The mood loosened. She wasn’t nearly as uptight.

Minha went first. I contemplated my angle. As the Merlot soaked, from across the table, I searched for a sparkle in her eye. Then, I realized, I can’t lie. We finished a best of five. The whole day was a reminder to get out and socialize.

October 3rd, Day 3

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“Would you like some coffee?” I asked. In the kitchen, Minha and I rummaged for breakfast. Hermine had mentioned the night before that she would be in Paris for the day. She left a short list of tasks to complete on the table, in French.

Pleasantly breezy, with sun, I sawed branches and wrapped them into bundles with chord out in front of the barn. Minha worked in the garden. After half an hour, we were done. We saddled our bikes around eleven, and rode toward le ville.

Behind a crumbled old façade, a small market hid. “Carrots, onions, potatoes” we gathered the items from our list. The last task for the day.

We spotted the bar on our way back. A wall of tobacco products on one side, and a few handles of drafts on the counter. The Affligem biere was refreshing in the afternoon warmth. The place was empty. We only stayed for one.

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With the place to ourselves, I took the opportunity to explore the Chateau. Through a foreign corridor, I entered a door at the right. It creaked as I pushed. Dust fluttered through the daylight. A bed, a bit messy, a shelf of books, even messier, and a harp, were inside. No televisision, or computer, like a room from a museum, trapped in time.

In that rustic French kitchen, Minha and I sat sipping noodle with kimchi for dinner. She’d brought them with her from home.

Around ten, when I went to bed, Hermine still hadn’t returned.