Has a friend forwarded you this French word journal? Sign yourself up for the free newsletter and never miss a word or photo. Photo of front porch, where Mom and I will soon have coffee. The wind blew off the makeshift curtain (an attempt to shade the area at lunchtime...)
la chaise-longue (shez- lowng)
: lawn chair
Elle est dans le jardin, en train de lire sur sa chaise-longue. She's in the garden, reading on her lawn chair.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
"I could hear you girls giggling all night long!" Mom called out.
I looked up from the flower bed, where I had been experimenting with an ice plant (could one really stick a griffe de sorcière in the ground.. and it would grow?). "Good morning Mom!" I chirped, waving the experimental cutting.
A second-story window framed my mom and the morning sun dazzled her eyes, which sparkled with life. She had her silver hair tied back and her olive complexion was as fresh as the morning dew that covered the plants beneath me. I could tell Mom was full of energy today. Perhaps we could do something special to mark this, her second-to-last day in France before returning home to Mexico?
"Come have your tea with me?" I stood up, shook the dirt from my hands and pointed to the picnic table.
Mom was down in a flash and we were reliving the previous evening, in which I had the pleasure of spending time with Ann and Katia, a writer and a beloved podcaster. I rarely have the occasion to speak in person with people who do similar work to my own, and it was interesting to talk about the highs and lows of creative work.
Mom loved my friends and I assured her that they found her just as endearing. "I'm sorry I talked too much..." Mom apologized, as we took our cups of tea and walked from the front porch to the meadow, below, to have a look at all the plants among the olive trees.
"Don't worry about it!" I said, feeling a little ashamed for having elbowed Mom the night before. Having realized she was three-quarters of the way through her life story, I wondered: had Mom gotten to the part where she was rescued? Strapped onto a lawn chair and lowered onto a Mexican panga boat to be transferred from the remote fishing village to a city hospital? Ironically, that would be the beginning of her nightmare.).
I was sorry to have been disrespectful to my Mom and regretted my words from the night before (along with a few other things I'd said during her four week visit to France). And now Mom would be leaving soon. Had we said and done all we had wished to say and do?
"I just want to lie here in the garden," Mom said, "here under this olive tree. I'll go get the other lawn chair."
"Stay there! I'll get it for you!" I dashed off, past the wild fennel and the bright red poppies, to the terrain de pétanque--where those "witches fingernails" I'd been transplanting grew--and snatched up the chaise longue.
We arranged the lawn chairs along the slope, until we were looking up at one of the ancient olive trees. "I'd like this one to be mine," Mom suggested. "Could you put my name on it?"
It was a lovely idea. I could then sit by the tree and think of Mom while she was an ocean away....
"Look over there," I said, pointing to a figuier I'd discovered the day before. The little fig tree (really a series of shoots from an ancient trunk) had been completely overrun by an invasive bush. The night before, I'd gotten the long-handled shears and freed it of its leafy invador and could now admire it from where Mom and I were sitting. "OK, I said, this one is Jules! And do you know what I've named the little fig tree?"
Mom's eyes were bright with curiosity.
We sat there laughing beneath the olive tree, remembering yesteryear--before one of us moved to Mexico and the other to France. Back when we shared tall glasses of milk and those favorite fig-filled cookies.
"Fig Newtons..." Mom said, reminiscent.
"I'll call him "Newey" for short." I winked at my mom, who smiled as we gazed at our trees, affectionately.
As the wind blew through the trees' branches, causing the leaves to rustle, our conversation carried on, lackadaisically. I no longer hoped we were making the most of our time, but knew that this cozy moment was the yesteryear of tomorrow--as comforting and sweet as those fig-filled cookies.
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Making memories with Mom. After Mom befriended this guy, she handed me the ball to play.
Don't tell Smokey and Braise... We'll bring them the next time!
Tidying up the house before tidying up ourselves... and heading out to explore another seaside town...
Mom, "la capitaine", at the port in La Ciotat. I think it's time to name Mom's fish purse à la Mr Sacks. Suggestions welcome in the comments box!
At the seaside market in La Ciotat, I bought a jujube tree and a few other natives to plant in our garden, beside the Mediterranean strawberry tree, or arbusier. What are some other local trees and fruit-bearing shrubs that you would suggest? Meantime, Mom and I are busy trying to identify more than trees... but all of the edible weeds and medicinal plants here in the olive field or meadow: plantain, fumeterre, fennel, lucerne, chardon de marie, pissenlit... and heaps of thyme and rosemary.
I'm going to miss you so much, Mom. Come back soon! And thank you for being my sweet maman. While her adoring husband is waiting for her back in Mexico, help me wish Mom bon voyage, here in the comments box.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi