#7 The Spanish Butterfly Blog: Joie de Vivre

After a full day’s travel, we find ourselves north of the Spanish Pyrenees – in the small town of Perigueux in Southern France. We were met by cool temperatures and rain but on this Saturday morning, the slate sky shifted to cerulean blue and rays of sunshine showered the town. Right in the center of the old village, a farmer’s market was bursting with life.

Such weekly farmer’s markets have been held in this square for centuries, maybe millenia. The bounty of May is everywhere – white asparagus, bright pink peonies, the ripest of strawberries, fresh goat cheese, and heavenly baguettes. People of all ages bustle about with baskets, filling them with bright abundance. Separate in my lack of language, I wander about breathing in the festive air and observing the friendly social interactions.

The square is surrounded by cafes where people sit in rattan chairs lingering over cafe au lait and espresso. Daniel and I wedge our way to a table next to a group of women all chatting amiably. Suddenly, as we order coffee, the women erupt with chuckles and guffaws. Our language barrier gives way to the universal language of laughter and we too begin to giggle. The hilarity beside us is so contagious that we find our mood buoyed as they continue laughing, almost nonstop, for the next thirty minutes.

The joie de vivre – joy of living –  is found in the simplest moments when amusement creates a social bond between strangers. Laughter is known to be a potent endorphin releaser, a natural antidepressant, a balm for the soul. Joy, it turns out, is not so much about place or product, but rather is found in precious, often giddy moments. Laughter is the medicine of mirth. We left the market with more than a basket of bread and berries, we left also with delight, our hearts full.

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