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Burgundian Days

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Every morning in Burgundy I awoke to sunlight filtering through the leaves of the Linden tree outside my window and casting shadows on the wall. The bedroom, its panels painted deep yellow, was in my estimation second only to the cavernous kitchen, with its massive fireplace and ceiling beams. The window above the sink was set a meter into the thick stone wall, and curtained with grape vines. Doors opened up to the long-abandoned formal gardens, which overlooked the vineyards and hills.

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Breakfast was strong coffee served from a china teapot and a pastry from the bakery one village over. Mid-morning, I collected mint and rosehips from the garden and forest for a very Proustian tisane, and every afternoon melted squares of dark chocolate into milk and cream. Days might be spent in the cold, damp cellars or hot, dry vineyards, or bringing in wood to keep the fire burning for hours spent sitting alone at the kitchen table, writing.

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Dinner was shared by a roaring fire and candlelight, usually some rich local fare—Poulet Gaston Gerard or Boeuf Bourguignon, or a vigneron’s salad made from ingredients bought at the market that morning. Bottle after bottle of old, nameless wines were brought up from the vaulted medieval cellars (no fewer than three of them), opened and smelled, decanted and drunk, until the fire faded to embers.

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Then came a hot bath in the footed tub, and a quick dash across the long, cold room into bed, where we read to each other (usually P.G. Wodehouse) until it was time to sleep.

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