Beefy Parisian Pig: The France Arrival
Arriving in Noyers, France was like a dream!
I had no idea what to expect, but the experience of actually being in this place was magical. As I look back, it seems surreal.
My temporary home during the residency was a little room on the second floor of a medieval building > the Unicorn Room. It had two windows that opened out onto beautiful roofs, and on the street below I could see the grocery store.
Michelle, the residency co-founder and co-owner, was busy and also welcoming. The downstairs of the residency building had art galleries and shopping space, while the upstairs had the bedrooms, kitchen, and library. It was all so inviting, as I sipped a cup of hot cocoa and settled in.
Eventually I would get to explore the whole building - and even the outdoor studios and a barn where Nazi soldiers had played cards during WWII occupation. There was a super fantastical third floor library full of French books, films and delight.
Michelle offered me a few spaces to work/create in. I settled on a creative space off the kitchen.
This space looked out onto an art gallery and was full of light. Since it was October, the room was chilly so I had a heater. It was so meaningful to paint here and to know that I was here for awhile... I could sit, paint, write, and read here.
Over the coming days, I would go to my first French yoga class, I would meet two artists who created beautiful pottery with a delightful studio, and I began meeting a group of local creatives every morning for coffee with a little square of chocolate. I could definitely live like this!
I truly absorbed all this like a sponge, a "starved for water" sponge.
Opportunities to meet new people, creative people, opened up daily. Noyers is an international art community. In addition to see so many different types of creatives, I began to learn about truffle pigs... a new world that before then I had no idea even existed!
To back up a little, when I had googled "French artist residencies," I connected with a residency locator organization. Apparently, they decided where to send me. Part of the true serendipity of this experience was where I ended up... for me it was perfect. They didn't know what I wanted to write about. They didn't know Beefy's story, and yet somehow they sent me to the south of France - the truffle growing region. We kept adjusting the dates for me to go, which ended up perfect too. Without planning it, I would be there during the annual truffle festival!
In addition to learning about French culture, it was fascinating to learn about truffle pigs. I would discover over the next month that truffle pigs are very valuable, they are usually girls, and there's even a detective agency because the pigs are stolen. There is a truffle market, where many buyers come. There's a lot of regalia, history and excitement related to truffles. On opening day of sales, people line up to buy truffles and a bell rings before the market opens. I got to eat a few different types of food with truffles and see groups of men who belonged to historical truffle groups - it's even hard to explain.
As I began to learn more about truffle pigs, I began to learn more about Beefy Parisian Pig. Originally, all I knew was that he was at the end of Wanda's first story. And, he worked in a Parisian truffle shop.
One of the lessons I've learned from Wanda is to send my desire to the Universe and then wait. In the waiting, I also practice - drawing, reading, learning, resting, walking, learning French.
As I immersed in French and truffle culture, I drew pictures of Beefy and boars. I made clay pig snouts at the pottery studio of the new friends I'd made.
Spending time with them was delightful. I was in France to write, yet working in clay was grounding and very healing! The company of the potters was joyful too :)
Here are a few images of the pottery studio's backyard. I wanted to include them because the space was so delightful!
Letting myself absorb Noyers - it's people, places, feel - this was all part of my Beefy Parisian Pig experience. With my Type A+++ personality, I could have tried forcing things. But one of the very most important things Wanda keeps teaching me is timing, waiting and patience.
I kept walking, going to the pottery studio. Making these pig snouts was so meaningful and they eventually became gifts I would give to others who had so generously supported me.
I dropped essential oils on the clay noses and they became a way to share aromatherapy - a perfect combination for sure. Isn't life sweet when things come together like this??
As the days passed by, I experienced more. One day I would send mail from the local post office.
Workers at the post office and bakery spoke zero English, which was awkward and fun. I would have to figure it out!
I would get croissants from la boulangerie. Then I would read about truffle pigs and draw and journal.
Eventually words came. It was near the end of my residency that all the goodness I'd absorbed flowed out of me. What I had learned and experienced brought me into "Beefy Parisian Pig mind."
His story was thorough, sad and very touching. In a fascinating twist, his origin story ended, well... I'll wait to tell you that later :)
I learned so much from this magical journey, and can't wait to return one day. After returning back to the US a month later, I did some writing with Beefy but fell back into my work and schedule. I would still think of him from time to time, sometimes a lot.
When Covid started and life shut down, I began painting the illustrations to go with his story.
As I read his story more, I realized how meaningful it could be to not only myself but others. Beefy's story, like Wanda's, covered so many heart-felt needs we all have. It's related to animal rights, family, loss, community, loneliness, sadness, and hope. I hope this backstory is enjoyable to read and that you will keep tuning in.
It is such a delight for me remember and write about. Maybe my sharing of my journey with Beefy Parisian Pig, will also inspire you to listen to your own heart and take your own magical creative journey!