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company for dinner

The mistral has blasted in again. Two days ago we looked out at a drizzling, chilly and grey day in Gordes; yesterday was sunny but brisk, and today again, outside my window as I write, there’s the sound of busy cicadas in the hot sun and the moaning of wind. I understand why this wind has a name – it’s a force, sometimes an almost malevolent presence, like a wolf prowling around the house, or a powerful spirit trying to shove its way in. But a respite from broiling temperatures is also a relief.

I know that my friends in Canada, which apparently is having one of the worst summers in decades, will not appreciate reading that it’s a relief to get out of the heat of the sun, occasionally. But the temporary absence of sun helped, too, with my weeding, the incessant weeding that is my main job here. Has anyone written a book called “The Zen of Weeding”? It becomes a contemplative activity. I am a monk with a bucket of dead weeds.
Yesterday my August schedule became clear enough that I could go on-line and book my TGV ticket to Paris, where I’m spending the last week of my journey. Those who’ve followed the blog know the infuriating difficulty I had trying to change a previous TGV booking made on-line, so you might marvel that I did so again, but this time I was sure I had it all figured out. First, I took what they called “cancellation insurance,” and then got such a good price for the 12.30p.m. train that I quickly booked it. When I showed Lynn my ticket, however, she told me that the cancellation insurance is only valid in cases of death or dismemberment and that my ticket clearly states that on this train I do not have a seat. Which means I might be standing, or moving from seat to seat with my 24 kilo bag, all the way from Montpellier to Paris.
All figured out? In yer dreams.
It’s an unexpected treat to share the house with toddlers. Yes, the living-room floor is littered with toys, the kitchen with tiny spoons, bottles and plates and the garbage is full of diapers. But it’s so interesting to watch and play with them. They’re about the same age, but Maude is more verbal and much less physical; her cousin Issaak never stops moving, exploring, and pushing away the hands that try to help. This morning we took them both for a walk, or, rather, a stagger, Maude clutching her favourite toy, a dish brush, and Issaak heading for his favourite toy, his grandfather’s car. No, no sex typing here.
Unfortunately, by the end of yesterday, Issaak had hit his head on the coffee table, had a huge open gash and had to be rushed to Emergency in Cavaillon, where they glued it shut. Maude had a high fever, probably from teething, so all the adults were feeling her forehead and consulting. Both babes, today, beaming, with a house full of people dancing attendance.
Lynn’s sister Karen from Montreal, her two children Marta-Elena and Manuel and her best friend Nora arrived yesterday, and so did 3 Australian best friends of the groom, so we were 12 or 13 at dinner. And what an assembly. Sarah’s Burundian husband Jean-Marie is tall and wears loose, colourful African clothes – an extremely exotic figure. Karen’s two children were adopted in Central-America; as I’ve pointed out, the two babies here are multi-racial, and the 3 Australians turned out to be one Aussie, one German-Macedonian and one Macedonian-Australian. Lynn made a vast ratatouille, Nora and I barbequed a ton of salmon, another table was added to the terrace, and the dinner went on till darkness fell at 10.30. As predicted, the Australians and recently-arrived Canadians did not know how to cut the cheese, and when it arrived at our end of the table, the cheeses were hacked and mangled, all the tips cut off. But no matter, the taste was the same.
This morning for breakfast, there were Montreal bagels fresh from Montreal. A taste of home. I’m no longer homesick. I know that in only four weeks I’ll be standing up from Montpellier to Paris, have one last week of French pleasure, and then parachute back into my regular life. What oh what will that be like?
P.S. 3 p.m. – as we did the dishes after lunch – lunch for 14 – I was singing Joni Mitchell’s “I could drink a case of you,” and when I got to her line, “Oh Canada …. a….”, I nearly burst into tears. So you could say that homesickness is lurking.
I really, really miss my children.
But lunch was really, really good.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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