So many of you are now reading Diane's inspiring memoir about her time in France. I received my copy a few days ago and by page 16 I had teared up three times. I can deeply relate to Diane's longing for France! In an honest and very modest tone, Diane writes about what it is like to feel that innate pull that is calling you to France--and what it is like to venture here, all alone, after patiently waiting decades for the chance. Diane's book will encourage you to honor those longings.
Read Eight Months in Provence, A Junior Year Abroad 30 Years Late. It is never too late to fulfill a dream. CLICK HERE to order the paperback
For the Kindle edition or E-book, click here
TODAY'S WORD: accrocher
: to hold onto
ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: Download Accrocher
On ne peut jamais tourner une page de sa vie sans que s'y accroche une certaine nostalgie. -Eve Belisle
We can never turn a page of our life without holding on to a certain nostalgia.
More practice with Exercises in French Phonetics
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
Creer, c'est vivre deux fois
Albert Camus said, "To create is to live twice." Anais Nin expressed it another way, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Being someone with a split attention span, I am so grateful for this tool -- the ability to recreate or review meaningful events. I will put it to use, once again in this journal today, by remembering a very special visit we received this week, by a lovely Scottish family.
The woman had sent us a message, last week, explaining that she and her family had spent a month, almost every summer, renting this house by the sea (the home we purchased in August of 2012) and were nostalgic to see it again, four-and-a-half years after their last visit.
We welcomed the nostalgic trio as they stepped out of their car, at the end of our gravel driveway. Our golden retriever, Smokey, was the first to make contact, via a slobbery version of the handshake. Jean-Marc and I extended the greeting the traditional French way: la bise! We took turns kissing the mom, the dad, and then the teenager--who, I suspected, would have been more comfortable with Smokey's slobbery handshake.
Tant pis! Young Ross was about to receive another round of kisses, this time by our neighbor, Annie, who was presently walking up the driveway to share in this tender reunion! "I remember when you were un infant!" Annie said, cradling an imaginary baby in her arms. That was 14 years ago...."
"Why don't we walk over to the porch and have a glass of wine," Jean-Marc suggested. I watched, as the family took in the changing landscape. Several trees had been cut back to reveal a sweeping view of the Mediterranean sea. "It's lovely," Rona, the wife, offered.
Looking behind the house we viewed the forest where husband Robbie arrived after a morning run up the hillside from the opposite slope. Not far from there was Annie's house, where her grandchildren were about to charge down the path to play with Rona and Robbie's children, once upon a time....
We laughed as we listened to the stories of so many happy times spent in Maggie and Michael's summer house. Robbie was friends with Maggie and Michael's son, Alexander, and this is what brought the young family to spend summers here in Bandol wine country.
As they shared memories, Rona siting on the cement bench in front of the window, reached into her purse and produced a picture: it was the same scene, only it was her mother, sitting in the very same spot. I recognized the brown wooden shutters and the faded wall--and even a few cracks were there!
"Would you like to see inside the house?" I offered.
Our guests stood politely in the entryway. "The essence of the house is the same," Robbie remarked.
"That is so good to hear," I said. "When we first walked into this house, Jean-Marc was struck by a familiar scent. It flooded him with pleasant memories of cottages by the sea, and other happy times he had as a boy living on the coast of France. "We wanted to keep the relaxing "summer house" atmosphere intact," I added.
Walking into the kitchen, I pointed out that all of the tones were the same: wood and white. We had switched out a few elements, for a more functional work space. As the nostalgic family approached, one member tripped on the way in to the kitchen, which was a few centimeters higher than before. "Oh, and we changed the floor, too! Sorry...." We gathered around the kitchen window, some of us remembering yesteryear's view....
"Let's go see the former library and living room!" I said. Walking through a passage with a very low, wood ceiling, all the books from a previous life were gone--replaced by a worn couch where my daughter enjoys watching reality shows, and where Jean-Marc and I occasionally watch movies. "This is now the TV room," I explained. Did I feel sheepish? No! One day that awful reality TV would be shut off forever, and my little girl will be out of the nest. Oh! Now who was being nostalgic!
"Let me show you something..." I walked up two short flights of stairs, to the former living room which was now our bedroom. A copy of Diane's book was open, spine side up, on a bed made up in white sheets and covered with my grandmother's homemade red afghan blanket--perfect for a summer night's breeze through the open window!
"We used to watch movies in this room!" Robbie said looking around. Rona added, "we would project them across that wall!" And over there, was the couch where my mother slept when she went on vacation with us one year!" Missing was The Big Black Chair - belonging to Maggie's father. "The kids loved to spin in it!" Rona admitted.
"Oh, really? So did our kids! And my Mom, too!" I said. Nostalgia was now running rampant as we shared more and more stories of this gentle and much loved house by the sea.
As we said our goodbyes, Rona's eyes swept across the vineyard. "It is so nice to see how this place has been cared for!"
"I will be sure to let Jean-Marc know what you have just said. He is worn out after making it this far, and is going through a period of doubt--unsure of whether he can continue." Maybe I had overshared, for a period of silence followed my remark... But the next words, offered by Robbie and Rona, lightened my spirit.
"Thank you so much for allowing us to visit you. This has meant so much to us." Rona said.
Robbie added, "Coming back here--driving up the old lane--it was as though my heartstrings were running up the hill alongside of us."
I smiled, remembering those same running heartstrings Jean-Marc and I had felt, when we moved here 4 years ago. This visit by a trio of Scottish angels had helped to strike a hopeful chord. But would the melody reach a weary wine farmer? Is wishing so only to interfere with destiny?
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Foutas - cotton bath, beach, yoga, pareo or throw towels. So versatile! In sharing with you some of my very favorite things, I cannot leave out these foutas! There is a veritable foutas craze here in France, and you will see these wonderful striped towels on the beaches from coast to coast--and for sale in the outdoor market stands. Click here to order one.
Colorful Foutas - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym, massage, water park--and they make very pretty table cloths, too! Click here to order.
Tour de France Roadmap T-Shirt and don't miss the boxer briefs! Click here.
Espadrilles - everyone's wearing them this time of year - in the south of France and elsewhere! Click here.
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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