Pétanque and potager. Been planting lettuce, kale, and goji berries beside the boules court, turmeric, too! It looks like the Braise and Smokey are busy with a game now... OK, as long as they don't stop for a healthy snack!
: to ease, to make easier
Ma mère est là pour faciliter cette transition.
My mom is here to help ease this transition.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
One of the reasons I wanted Mom to come visit, the week after we moved to Bandol, was so the kids and I wouldn't be alone while Jean-Marc was away at harvest. (He wanted to help Caroline and Thomas, the new owners of Domaine Rouge-Bleu during their ten day vendange).
The other reason I needed Mom here was for her ability to instantly infuse our new home and our environment with a unique essence: that of family, of love, of timelessness. Once Mom arrived it would be as though we had always been here forever, along with the French and British predecessors of this 19-century mas.
Indeed, as I hear Mom's voice echo throughout the meadow—where she is off on her morning walk with two happy dogs—it is as though I have never left home, whether that be the Arizona desert, where I grew up... or the bustling city of Marseilles, where Mom arrived in time to greet her first grandson... or the quiet village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens, where Jules came to help with the growing family, only to learn that tumors were growing inside of her. Mom literally left a piece of herself in France that time, before returning home to Mexico to have the other breast removed.
From the boules court where I am picking figs....
...I spy Mom exploring the ancient restanques and the future vegetable garden. Jules is wearing my old hiking boots and another of her loose ponchos (she never did have the reconstructive surgery, after her mastectomy--and hated those constrictive prosthesis bras which would gradually inch up, finishing the journey by strangling her at the neck! The ponchos and other loose-fitting clothing have become Mom's carefree solution).
I wave from beneath the figuier, shaking a fig at my fellow explorer down below. When Mom sees me she lights up, shaking a discovery or two of her own.
"Look!" Mom shouts, waving an exotic flower "the only one in the meadow". I don't have the heart to tell her that the delicate blue flower grows à gogo in a neighboring field. I watch as Mom returns in time to fill a shot glass with water and place the "rare" blue specimen (a chicory) on my desk. "Honey, always keep flowers on your desk," Mom smiles.
After the flowers, there will be gifts of pine cones ("look at the teethmarks!" Mom enthuses. "I wonder what wild animal was hungry for this one?"), and feathers (Mom loves to stick them in her hat, along with the wildflowers), and intricate leaves, "for your souvenir book," Mom suggests. In the evening I will tuck the leaves and the feathers into my journal, and do a sketch, as Mom suggests, of the little potager garden we are planting. I want to document where I've planted things--in case it all grows out of control! Meantime, lettuce, kale, rhubarb, turmeric, blueberries, gojiberries, beets, verbena, celery, and cilantro are coming up like like morning sun. A brand new day....
After sharing two decades of France with my Mom, I couldn't wait for her to be here to usher us into this next chapter of our lives. Like the opening paragraphs of a great novel, Mom is helping to set the scene of this mysterious and promising new beginning. It is her commencement as well; the start of a new year--her 66th. Happy birthday Mom!
Selected French Vocabulary
la pétanque = game of boules. See Herm's poem.
le potager = kitchen garden
boules (f) = synonym for pétanque
la vendange = harvest (definition, photo, and story here)
le mas = country farmhouse
une restanque = a support wall made of stones
à gogo = galore, in great quantity
Some family photos for you. There's Mom, outside with Max. Inside, that's my mother-in-law, Michèle-France, and 15-year-old Jackie.
Jean-Marc, Michèle-France, Jackie, and me.
Jules, Max, Jacques, Michèle-France, Jackie, and Jean-Marc, before serving Jackie's birthday cake.
La famille. To comment on any of these photos, click here.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety