Mom took my picture in a patch of winter lavender, found along La Voie Douce, or Gentle Path--a wonderful place to walk, ride your bike (or trottinette) here in La Ciotat. More about our walk, below.
Today's word: la voie
: path, way
How colorful my daily walks have become since dragging Mom along with me! Even if she never wants to go: Honey, it's cold out, I'm getting back in bed, or Sweetheart, my hip hurts... are her go-to replies. But I've learned how to get her out and moving: Why don't you have a cup of tea? I say, and by the time she's collected herself, she's ready to go!
You know, Mom insists as we make our way out the front gate, I am a VERY physical person! I used to run up and down the hills at my Saguaro Lake cabin! I nod my head, certain she is, or was, sportive (and will be again), but she--like me--gets into ruts. My goal these days is to stay out of those ruts and to take Mom with me.
Almost as soon as we hit the street Mom's got to tchatcher with everyone. I am extremely ill-at-ease but swallow my resistance and become her nodding cohort and translator: Yes, my mom is saying that you look divine! I say to the woman in patent leather shoes, walking her Jack Russell. She loves your pearls. And thinks your glasses are marvelous. Why does my mom have to be so extravagant with her compliments? The French do not compliment people in the same way!
Ah well, my job is to translate--and get over my reservations!
I can be so darned reserved. Mom might say I'm a stick in the mud (sticks are stiff, like me!) But I'm loosening up. Je me lâche. After all, who cares if we are completely out of culture or acting in a way the French don't....
Or are we? The more time I spend with Mom as she chats up the French, pointing to their fabulous coats or glorious hair or smashing shoes! the more I see them smiling back--in a childlike, happy-to-play-along way. There is something magical in the air once you cut back the barrier (the swift-walking-past with nary a nod to a stranger). Once you engage...there are sparkles. I saw them yesterday, in the eyes of the people Mom spoke to. Enlivened, you could see their spirits transcending cultural norms and rules. (And God knows, with Mom there are no rules!)
It makes me stop to consider, once again, that people are people. Just like us, they want to connect, to laugh, and to live creatively, lightly and more playfully. (Here, dear reader, I must pause my story, to tell you about a couple of French women who were just now walking past my house--only to stop in their tracks. The women are currently holding onto my fence while making clucking sounds.
Bak bak bak BAK! they are cooing, having been amazed to discover chickens in the neighborhood. So the next time you think the French are trop elegant and untouchable, remember this scene which has given me enough joy to last the week. OK, now to finish writing today's missive...where were we? Oh yes, on a walk with Mom...
Isn't this a nice walk, I say to Mom, as we head home.
Divine. It's just divine!
Well, of course she'd call it that and, I might add, in herspeak, it was indeed fabulous, glorious, and downright smashing! Now to do it again tomorrow.
Postnote: creativity may be contagious. Along our walk Mom saw these beautiful seedpods. Studying them, I noticed they were the same silvery color as Mom's locks. Let me put them in your hair, I said. They'd make a fabulous hair ornament....
la voie = the path
douce= soft, gentle
la trottinette = kick scooter
sportive, sportif= athletic, physical, sporty
tchatcher= to gab
se lâcher= to loosen up
à suivre = to be continued
Related story: Canon! How to Compliment a Frenchwoman
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