A condemned door in the town of Visan. Over the bar, the train of life continues and a splash of sunshine reveals itself in the fruit along the vine. Comment on this photo, here.

A is for Allègre, the perfect word for my painterly friend. Read about Tessa in today's story column.

In music: Songs in French for Children

allègre (alegr) adjective

    : jolly, cheerful, light-hearted; lively, merry

  avoir le coeur allègre = to be light-hearted
  marcher d'un pas allègre = to walk briskly, lightly

La musique nous aide à construire nos vies spirituelles, nous apaise, nous console, nous redonne de la joie, nous rend allègre, nous fait danser, chanter. Music helps us to construct spiritual lives, calms us, consoles us, gives us back our joy, renders us cheerful, makes us danse, sing. --Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Audio File: hear how the French word "allègre" is pronounced, listen to examples:Download Allegre Download Allegre

A so-called southerly wind is steering through our town of Sainte Cécile, causing the rain in its path to spray hither and thither.

From a second-story window now blurry with raindrops, I can barely see three sets of tracks, two dainty, one, dog-pawed, that lead out to the truffle orchard two fields away. How quickly our traces fade!--like laughter in a memory bank of bygone days.

Tess left last night, 24 hours after she'd appeared, with flowers for the front porch, paint brushes in her bag, and poetry knowetry up her sleeve like a trick and a treat.

Tess, left, teaching Max to paint.

Lightness and laughter now mine, it is time--
to further put aside seriousness and, instead,
relax a bit, sit back a bit, and share this friend of mine....

(Introducing Tess, whom I have written about twice* before, and who will now pick up the "pen", in time to recount our weekend replete with hunters, still life, and good times galore...)

"Bliss Holds Us" by Tessa Nelson

Kristi turned to me and smiled, "Why don't you write my post for me?"

"What, write your post!" I said. "I couldn't possibly do that. I wouldn't know where to begin!" A flash of fear rushed through my veins, this woman whose writing I admire so much,  has just offered me carte blanche on her blog. So who am I to refuse, it would be callous and arrogant of me not to accept such a
generous offer.

I am sitting on the sofa, with the comfy sound of the fire, lazy and as relaxed as I am. Braise, the dog, is gazing out of the huge French windows that take my eyes across the grass, and the stream, the little bridge that leads me through the skeleton of winter vines. It's odd, but I can almost feel their pulse: the surge of lime green leaves waiting to push through to see the sun, but they must wait for a few months to come. Meandering, I reach the trees, the place the hunters hide in wait for their prey, and then I look up toward the sky. Mount Ventoux reaches through the clouds, and there my eyes rest, and I feel so glad that I am here.

DSCF4227 Yesterday morning, this balmy relaxed feeling that is wrapping itself around me was nowhere to be found. I always get this feeling that there is so much to do, I can't get away, I must stay at home and work and work and work, but all work and no play is no good for me. David kissed me goodbye, and said "smile, enjoy your time away, there is no point in going if you don't have fun." He was right: I haven't seen Kristi properly since this time last year. I think the spirit of love decided to come on the journey with me. The negative thoughts that had been crowding my mind and suffocating my joy, were being transferred to positive happy thoughts, to all the things that I can do and that I am able to do, all the gifts that God has given me, including my wonderful friends.

DSC_0006 photo, left: Max in his "Marcel" shirt.
I arrived here at lunch time yesterday. Since, we have walked and talked, and walked and talked and eaten. But the most precious moments, have been the times we have all sat together painting around the kitchen table. Jackie, Max, Kristi and I painting still lifes and imaginary paintings. Calm and serenity pervade, and a feeling of bliss holds us. I am indeed a privileged being.

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome, in the comments box. Thanks!

You may remember reading about Tess in past issues of this word journal:

Tessa's Chef, Art, Food and Daily Life journal:

The three orange husks, on the right, are "amour-en-cage". Remember the "love in a cage" story?

In Film: The 400 Blows - Criterion Collection

Diary of a Country Priest - Criterion Collection

French food:
Grey Sea Salt/Sel Gris From Guerande, Brittany France

LU Herbes De Provence Flatbread Crackers

The kids and I learned to paint this weekend, can you tell whose is whose? (That's a puzzle from my friend, Alicia, beneath the art.)
I'll try to post a photo of my daughter, next time (she wasn't in the mood for pictures!)

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

Ways to contribute:
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety