The train is full, bursting at the seams with piles of luggage and holidaymakers pushing their way to their reserved seats. Smart Parisians who have rented a cottage for the summer on the fashionable coast, foreigners visiting friends who own a house in the country and do not care about fashionable: it is the simple, unspoilt land that attracts them.
In Lisieux about half the train disembarks. The Parisians drag their enormous suitcases across the platform where the local to Dauville is waiting. All the others are met by frantically waving relatives, who have already arrived, who have already put on their shorts and funny sunhats, who have already shaken off the hustle of city life and look relaxed, décontracté, the business of contracts and appointments shed.
We are picked up by Bernard, our farmer friend, who looks odd among these people, with his plaid cap shading his rugged face, his gnarled hands thrust in the pockets of his neat Sunday pants. The dog Tazi has spotted him long after we have, but is the first to greet him, jumping up against him.
In the car home we hear the main news. How the family is doing, which shops have changed hands, that the summer has never been this wet. That is a real concern. The farmers cannot reap the corn, or bring in the hay. They will need at least three weeks of dry, sunny weather.
Although Bernard retired a few years ago, these things naturally still worry him. It puts our city worries in perspective.
At the house the grass has grown ankle high and the weeds have had a field day. But the hollyhocks are in full bloom against the half-timbered walls, and the sun is shining on the terrace. We open the shutters and make a pot of tea.
We are home.