From a farm in California to one in France... Divisadero: a new book by Michael Ondaatje. Read more here.
angoisse (ahn-gwace) noun, feminine
Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.
All fear is imaginary, reality is its antidote.
Roland Garros* is underway here in France and my husband, a former tennis teacher, should be glued to the tube cheering Amélie Mauresmo to a victory and screaming insults at the screen after Sébastien Grosjean lost. So why is he outside talking to himself?
I let the curtain fall to a close before slipping out to the front porch across from where Jean-Marc is emptying his garage cellar, transferring cases of wine to the back of his car and muttering something about "ce con de vent!"*
"Everything OK?" I ask, for the third time since he returned to Les Arcs to visit the kids and me for the weekend and to help pack another load for our imminent move north.
"Oui, ça ira,"* he assures me. He is just concerned about our vines back in the Rhone Valley. Apart from the diabolic wind, which is breaking vine limbs left and right, certain grapevines are stricken with mildew, Jean-Marc explains, while others are in need of an immune system boost.
Though I have a hard time picturing the immune system of a grapevine, it doesn't take a magnifying glass to reveal the stress written across a new farmer's face. Since I last saw my husband, five days ago in Sainte Cécile, vertical lines have appeared across his weatherworn cheeks giving the impression that he has suffered a coup de vieux.* The deep facial lines, like fissures after an earthquake, hint at the turmoil beneath the surface. As for the weight loss, I had chalked that one up to the maladie d'amour* which is exactly what befell Jean-Marc last November when he first laid eyes on her. Or "them" I should say--all 30,000 fluttery-leafed Céciliennes,* vines which he later agreed to love and to cherish in sickness and in health.
It is the wind and the breakage that obsesses Jean-Marc the most. All those fragile broken limbs left in the wake of a méchant* Mistral. It feels as if each vine is a child and each child has fallen out of a tree to lie helpless on the ground. Jean-Marc cannot bear the silent screams any longer.
"Don't worry about the wind!" I tell him. "Grapevines have been whipped around like that for thousands of years! Besides, there is nothing you can do about it--short of attaching a splint to each and every vine!" Jean-Marc can't deny that. Instead he nods, sighs, and waits as I search the bathroom for facial moisturizer. The cabinets are almost empty now, but there under the sink, lying on its side, is a near-empty tube of emollient cream. I pound the plastic container against my palm and collect enough of its contents to fashion a thick mask across my husband's wind- and worry-ravaged face.
The mini spa soin* seems to work and Jean-Marc begins to forget about the stresses up north: the needy vines as well as the farmhouse renovation which he is supervising.
I put the finishing touches on the mask, assuring him that those deep lines will be gone in no time. I only wish I could say the same about his worries.
References: le Roland Garros (the French Open) = tennis tournament held in Paris; ce con de vent = this damn wind; oui, ça ira = yes, it will be OK; (donner) un coup de vieux = to put years on/to age someone; la maladie (f) d'amour = love sickness; un cécilien, une cécilienne = one who lives in the town of Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes; méchant = mean; le soin (m) = treatment
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download Angoisse.wav ...link not working? Try this one: Download Angoisse.mp3 Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.
Terms & Expressions:
une crise d'angoisse = an anxiety attack
l'angoisse métaphysique = angst
avoir des angoisses = to feel as if one is suffocating
Speaking of tennis...have you ever listened to former French Open winner Yannick Noah sing? check out Métisse(s) for songs in French
French Music of the 20th Century: Poulenc/Milhaud/Messiaen
And speaking of stress... Bach's Rescue Remedy
The Jet Lag Bag- Anti-Stress Travel Pack
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