AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France — Happy Father’s Day from Aix!

I’m sad to say the last few days have been rather uneventful, but I thought I would take some time to write a few words and show some pictures of this lovely house I am so lucky to live in. The French are culturally very private, which is why every single house you see in town is surrounded by a giant stone wall, assorted shrubbery or both.

My house happens to have both and a large garden with an above-ground pool. According to Fred and Aline, my hosts, there is at least one hedgehog living somewhere in the garden. We heard it rustling around in the bushes last night while we were sitting outside after dinner.

Dinner is always enjoyed out in the garden at one of two outdoor tables. After we fill our bellies, we eat more. Usually we have our usual assortment of cheeses and then yogurt, fresh fruit or both. Coffee is always for dessert, and not your café latte with a tiny shot of espresso and three cups of milk. That is a ridiculous way to drink coffee to the French.

We have shots of espresso in little cups, either with sugar or plain. Then we spend at least another hour sitting around enjoying the rest of the warmth from the day. The daytime is hot here too and slightly humid.

I mentioned fruit earlier. In the garden, there are several trees that bear a fruit called a Nefle (Medlar, in English). It’s about the size of an apricot but more yellow and with a similar taste. Apparently they were brought to Europe from Persia but aren’t a commonly consumed fruit and exist now in wild hedgerows. They’re mostly good for marmalades or in pies because they have a tart flavor. I enjoyed eating it, but I guess they won’t be ripe for a few more weeks.