October 21st. Chestnut Festival in La Garde Freinet: New Acquaintances Made

We went to the next town up the mountain from Grimaud for the seasonal chestnut festival. It is really just a large market day, with chestnuts as the showcase. My family has found out that fresh roasted chestnuts hold no appeal for them. I liked them a bit, but our bag of uneaten chestnuts did find its way into the trashcan. Besides the chestnuts, the day was very eventful. While tasting some Brebis (sheep’s milk) cheese, the salesman asked me where we were from. It turned out his wife is an American who was born in Hollywood. Hollywood is not far from Studio City, where I grew up. He gave us his number and invited us to meet his wife and two children. We are actually getting together for a little Halloween party this coming week.

Fifteen minutes later in this town, we were on a side street just talking when a man exiting his house started giving us pointers in English about the town, and his accent was American. He grew up in Southern California, and had gone to high schools in Laguna Beach, Burbank and Hollywood. He has been living in France for 20 years with his French wife. His wife and 20-something son soon came out of the house, and we all started talking. The man, Christopher (Chris) Mason, is a saxophone musician who recorded with Chet Baker, a prominent (and tragic) jazz trumpet player. Chris’ son is also a musician, and they do work together. They invited us to their house for coffee and to see Chris’ gold album that he got for an album he did with Chet Baker. Jordan also got an invitation to jam with these guys. We have wanted to find music connections/instruction for

the boys on this trip, and we may just have struck more than a gold record on the wall in that regard.

Small world stuff: Two Los Angeles connections in a small Provence village in the hills outside St. Tropez.

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