“But I was so much older then I’m younger than that now.” Bob Dylan
If I could talk with the young person I was at twenty, that young woman would find me a bit bewildering. Of course she may not even see me. I can’t remember noticing many middle-aged women when I was that age. I certainly did not find them interesting. The twenty year old could never have imagined that one day it would be her delight to share the custody of several cats with an archetypical French gnome: expert in gardening, animal husbandry and just about everything else.
The twenty-year old me did not even like cats especially, yet now, to win the trust of scruffy, feral cats seems like a great achievement. But more than that, I have co-befriended several of these cats with the singular Monsieur Albert. Monsieur Albert is the French gnome who has appointed himself chef of our coin du village. He lives across the street from us deep in the heart of la France profond.
All these accounts of living in Europe and of France in particular seem to involve living beside a wonderfully bossy, inquisitive, and good-hearted neighbour. Ours is, I am happy to say, no exception. Our second stroke of luck in our French life was that we chose a house opposite Monsieur Albert.