Retour au pays natal

June 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

I’ve registered this blog for some years now and have a couple of unpublished drafts I might complete one day but I will be starting off with new texts and a slightly different angle. My intention originally was to present cultural observations based on my experience as a French woman living in Los Angeles. I am however going to start this as a journal. I am also not starting this in L.A. but back home in France. Some sort of cahier d’un retour au pays natal.

I will be publishing several entries at once because I am behind on some of them. But this is good, I think, you’ll get to know the type of French I am before I can speak about my experience with the US.

***This blog was supposed to include videos but having technical issues with that right now, hopefully soon resolved.***

June 6th, 2014.

My sister picked us up at the airport and we are spending a couple of days at her place in Picardie, a region of France just North of Paris, presumably where Captain Picard would have originated from way back (the inhabitants of Picardy –en ingles– are named Picard or Picarde depending on their gender).

I have missed the sound of small town church bells without realizing it. I suppose I could have waited by the church around the hour for the bells to ring but instead I have footage of Ozzie the dog to the sound of church bells. Sunday mass calling.

June 7th, 2014

We had a really cool rainstorm explode at the end of a hot day. The clouds lit up from the inside. All these videos are captured with a very basic Flip-cam, forgive the basicness of the quality.

June 13th, 2014

After a few rainy days in Paris and riding the train during yet another train-workers strike (insanity at the station, crowds of travellers packing themselves in overfilled cars, suitcases everywhere, « train is unexpectedly delayed » annnouncements followed by « train is cancelled, catch the next one in 7 hours » and not a passenger bulging followed by the SNCF’s decision to move us all into a larger train – they must have sensed the pending riot), we made it to my homeland, Buoux.

I won’t write about Paris, there are enough guides out there. It was already starting to be packed with tourists. We ate well.

In Buoux, there remains one little cherry orchard. There used to be more. We got here right during cherry-picking season so I join in. It pays very little but I have attachments. This was my first summer job ever. There are two families here who own cherry orchards but the other family, the Reynaud, two « vieux garçons » brothers have abandoned their fields and all their other cultures, lavender, honey. They are tired and have no heirs, their needs are met. The Chabaud are still working hard but have pulled out most of the cherry trees, it just doesn’t bring in very much money. I feel a tinge of pain to know my dear cherry orchards are facing extinction in Buoux.

It’s more physically intensive than I remembered (still way more chill than grape-picking or lavender-field weeding). Ring ring 7 am, I wake up, have breakfast, pack a picnic and walk downhill and through fields to the orchard. Other pickers are already there, an old Renault parked under a tree. Piles of crates of different colors, ladders all around the trees and buckets with a hook so you can hook them to a branch or to a step of the ladder.

A good number of pickers are friends of the Chabaud, all locals. They speak in a heavy provençal accent, occasionally switching to their dialect. They have funny expressions like «  le tambour des limaces » for tonnerre (« drums of the slugs » for storm ). They talk about boar tracks, rain and hunting season. There are also two Russians, a tourist girl from Paris who was hiking by and asked to join in, and a couple that fascinates me, skinny and all creased by the sun, the man has such a heavy accent and funny elocution I sometimes have trouble understanding him, the woman smiles a lot, she climbs trees like a twelve-year old, they smoke rolled cigarettes.

On the way home, I cut through fields, come across green walnuts (still unripe), I pick a few to make walnut wine, come across one of the abandoned cherry orchards, all outgrown with weeds, I don’t enter it, scared of vipers — I’m wearing sandals.

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§ One Response to Retour au pays natal

  • Jessica says:

    Ah, you are capturing it. Magnificent. I love collecting idioms of different cultures “the drums of the slugs.” I love that you “ate well”, need you say anything more of Paris?
    More… more… I sent a prayer up to Saint Isidore of Seville to help with the video upload. Recently, I joined VIMEO, as their uploads were easier to deal with than YouTube, if you can’t upload directly, you can post a link. But you can only upload so much a week for free.

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