How I Nearly Threw My Summer in France Out the Window

Photo: Crista Cloutier

Someday I’ll tell you the story of how I came to stay at this old stone cottage in Provence. It’s truly been a gift.

But for now, I’ll tell you about how I almost threw the whole opportunity out the window.

The house is on a farm in the middle of the country. It’s owned by an American writer, and he’s filled the shelves with novels. It’s got comfortable chairs for reading, a robust fireplace, strong internet, a desk next to a window overlooking rows of vineyards, a loft where I sleep high up in the eaves, and even an art studio.

Could I be any more happy?

I’m house-sitting for him through the whole summer! All he asks is that I take good care of his cat.

I can do that. I mean, how hard could it be?

Le Chat was suspicious of me at first. And, as a bonafide dog lover, I was a little uneasy myself.

But a little sweet talk, daily lap time devoted to petting, meals served on schedule, and I think I’m in.

Until the incident.

The house hadn’t been lived in for awhile, so each day I tackle the dust and cobwebs as I try to tame it into submission. Sweeping, dusting, I’m obsessed, constantly going up and down the rickety stairs as I hunt for dirt.

I’ve hit my head so many times on these low ceilings that I have one of those comedy bumps on the top of me head, only it isn’t funny.

In the loft where I sleep high above, I throw open the windows to let the space breathe. I notice that the duvet needs airing so I bunch it up and holding it by the edges, energetically shake it outside.

That’s when it happens. I hear a scream and next see a cat flying through the air. Oh my God! Le Chat had been sleeping on the duvet!

Now I watch, as if in slow motion, as Le Chat cart-wheels through the air, paws spread, eyes agape, and she’s letting out the most horrible noise.

I join in with my own horrible noise as I feebly reach out after her.

But because the gods of cat-sitters were smiling upon us, Le Chat is able to clutch onto the eave of an adjoining roof. I pray fervently as I watch her slowly pull herself up by her claws.

Once there, she looks at me and huffs, “What the hell was that?”

“I am so sorry,” I cry. “Please don’t tell your Dad.”

For I nearly threw my whole summer out the window.

Like what you read? Give Crista Cloutier a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.