It hadn’t been long enough. Just short of eight weeks to be taught the art of aperitif wines, to fight a cockerel, to make jams and chutneys, to learn the wisdom of clouds and love, to judge and to accept and to weed and to grow. How could I possibly have been there already, bag checked in – yes, I packed it myself; who in their right mind would admit to having lent it to a friendly looking terrorist for five minutes? – clasping my overpriced waxed paper cup of hot chocolate that tasted like weakly sugared lukewarm water and had never known a cocoa bean. In right hand pocket of my trousers I played with the carved apricot kernel: the eye that had seen everything that I had while I was WWOOFing.
Ah, the prophetic old crone at Valence station had said to me, Ça vous changera: that will change you. And so I thought, yes, it had changed me. I had shared in so many lives and learned so much that change was inevitable, and it was an experience that would stay with me for many years to come. Perhaps it would even prove to shape my future in ways I couldn’t imagine at that point, being propelled forwards as I was on the moving walkway towards my departure gate.
But it hadn’t been long enough.