Quiet Sunday afternoon . . .

It is 3 p.m., hot–91 degrees as I write this–and the street outside my window is absolutely silent.  During the week, the narrow road is lively with activity; wooden window shutters slam, there is chatter as people, mostly women with baskets over their arms, walk up to the butcher’s, the boulangere or the epicerie.  Vans, cars and occasionally a tractor add their noise to the mix, dogs bark, kids squeal and dart in and out of doorways, it’s lively village theater.  At the moment though, the curtain is down.

Inside my apartment, always a little darker than I’d like,  my inclination is to fling open the shutters, but  I’m learning.  It is pleasantly cool and dim and I have Bach playing on the stereo.  Perhaps I should investigate French composers, at the moment Bach feels appropriate.


Earlier, I sat on the couch in the living room, reading the New York Times.  I should read Nouvel Observatoire, but it’s Sunday so I’m giving myself the day off.  The apartment is still not quite as I want it and still strikes me as cave like at times, but little changes are gradually making a difference.  If I could choose to have one thing–more appropriately a collection of things–sent from the States, it would be my books.  There is an English language bookstore in Montpellier though which is on my list of places to visit.

Postscript: It’s now 4:30, still 88 degrees according to my iPhone, but the street is now in shadow and it somehow feels cooler. I hear the kids first, released from their houses and chasing one another in and out of the alleyway. Then the whisk of a broom. The curtain has risen.

Some bits and pieces from the past week:

FRIDAY night  there was a village meal on Rue de la Dysse. Tables down the middle of the street, aperitifs, then the star course, an enormous pot of mussels made by a woman who used to live in a town known for this particular dish–can’t recall the town or the dish. The mussels were fantastic though. Truly a communal meal–all ages, nothing but food, wine, talk and laughter. Later as it got dark and the village lights came on,it looked like a scene from a French film. At some point, I wandered home, but when I woke at three a.m., I could still hear music playing.

WEDNESDAY, July 3–One of things I wanted to do while I was in France was to finish the book I’ve been working on, forever it seems. Despite the many distractions, I finally worked out the last chapter. That means I can start putting the final draft together, which barring major problems, should take maybe a month and then, yipppeeee, I can send the damn thing off and reeeeeallly have fun–just in time for all my visitors. More than all that, I like the way it turned out. I smiled as I wrote the last scene. Cannot quite describe the euphoria I feel at this moment.

TUESDAY, July 2–One of the joys and challenges of living in a foreign country, I’m finding, is that the simple errands I took for granted in the States–going to the post office, buying groceries, asking for instruction take on an added significance. How, for example, to tell the postal clerk that this letter needs to be sent to the United States as soon as possible? I thought I knew how to ask, but before leaving the apartment, I checked with Google translate, wrote down the sentence in my little note book that I carry everywhere, consulted it before I went into the post-office and, voila, asked and was understood! Such a mundane errand in the States, but now a learning experience. I was so pleased with myself that I walked across to the butchers for a morceau de saucisse, then back to the apartment. The sun was shining, the pigeons cooed, I bonjoured the old woman and her dog, Pipo, and had that fantastic sense that all is right with the world.

A bientot!

By La vie en France

4 comments on “Quiet Sunday afternoon . . .

  1. hey, janice…what good news that you have finished the book..almost anyway…so glad you are able to look forward to visitors knowing that that is off your desk..i’m looking forward to visitors again..actually, just one..my friend mike is coming down from paris for a week..we are going to take a trip down to the gers to pick up some meat that i ordered from someone on the southwest cafe group..he’s from the states and has refurbished a farm and is raising beef cattle (salers) which everyone who’s tried it says is fantastic..a four hour drive each way, so i do hope it’s worth it..mike has never seen the gers so it should be interesting for him..i spent some time there many years ago and liked it very much..it reminded me of the foothills of central california though a bit more open….it’s plenty hot here too..the pool has been opened, but it’s not really clean enough yet so i’m holed up inside too….i’m also getting my big television next week while mike is here to help me set it all up..men do come in handy in circumstances like these

    take care and bon continuation

    fondly melissa

    Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself.

    ~ Andre Gide


  2. Congrats on getting a good ending for your book!
    Hope Deanna and Vin get over in the fall to see you. Life in this little village seems to be from another date in time.

    Happy Everything,

  3. I remember those communal meals…great food and great company.
    i know what you mean about the triumph of making yourself understood on what would be a simple errand at home – but so fearsome abroad.

  4. You are indeed a writer! your descriptions take me there in such a lovely way. Please stay in touch Janice, you are a dear lady and I live my adventures thru you at the moment. Take care of yourself. Love, Carmel.

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