• Clarke Wallace

Looking back, some of my happiest moments were living in France. I spent a year in the Dordogne region of southern France working on my second book. It seems to me it was between marriages. Needing to get away, I flew to Europe and stumbled on the wonderful city of Sarlat in the Dordogne. (Wintered in the French Alps.)

[See HARVEST set mostly there, soon to be republished by US Beacon Publishing Group]

Life was different living in Europe where lunches can easily consume two hours. Nobody quibbles! Build that two-hour lunch into a routine in the U.S. or Canada, and you’d start heads wagging; whispers pointing you out as lazy, not to be trusted.

Europeans have a different attitude towards balancing the good life with a strong work ethic. Here in North America you start a job where, if you’re lucky, you get a week’s vacation. This might continue for several years before you’ve proven your worth, and given a raise.

To quote Star staff reporter Joanna Chiu, “Workers in the European Union (EU) enjoy a minimum of 20 days paid vacation per year,” she writes. “In Canada, the minimum vacation for a year of fulltime employment is 10 days.” She adds, “In the United States there is no federally mandated minimum paid vacation.”

In Germany, people expect a full hour for lunch. Along with the standard six weeks of annual vacation.

And how many of us here find ourselves eating lunches at our office desks? Bound by work is the top priority. Ms. Chiu tells us, “I think the pandemic has really challenged us to rethink that.”

I raise two thumbs for this quote by a Canadian teacher who moved to Toulouse in the south of France. “No one would bat an eye if you took a two-hour lunch. If you quickly ate a sandwich at your desk…people might ask if there’s anything wrong.”

Author’s comment: I couldn’t find a better way of summing it than this quote: “In North America the idea of a good life often involves material goods and acquiring property. While in Europe people value relationships more highly." Good for them.

  • Clarke Wallace

What’s the old expression? A picture tells a thousand words? Replaces a thousand words?

You get my drift. [See below].

We were having an early morning coffee when a THUNK came from outside. It meant one thing. A bird, catching the reflection of the surrounding woods, struck a solarium window. I went out to find a speckle-chested Fox sparrow lying on its back, feet up.

Stay that way long and it would die.

I bent down and picked it up, rolling it over on its tummy. I stroked it to get its rhythm, its mind back on track. “Take it easy, catch your breath.” The little sparrow finally wiggled onto its feet, shook its head and stared at me as if having all the time in the world to hang around, before taking its own sweet time to fly away.

Author’s comment: It’s difficult to imagine how a little bird can hit a window and hopefully without breaking its neck. It stood on my hand seemingly without a worry. It made my day.

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