The simplest acts, accomplished in a foreign language, are great pleasures. This morning I went to the post office and sent a few things which Verity had asked me to post. Checking to see if the stamp I had was correct (Est-ce timbre exact?) and encountering the super-friendly postman, who wrote out numbers for me because those are the same in every language, made me smile. I was beaming by the time I walked across the street to the boulangerie.
‘Bonjour, Kelley!’ said the baker who makes it a point to know everyone’s first name.
‘Bonjour, Isabel!’ I replied.
Ilona, a Polish girl who is maybe my age, and the cousin of the Polish priest in les Adrets, was buying bread. ‘Bonjour!’ kiss kiss. Verity had introduced us a few times, and Ilona had helped me find the pages for the songs at church.
‘Oh!’ she said, ‘Beaucoup de travaille…’ (A lot of work…) …and I was lost. But that’s ok! Because everyone is so nice here, that it requires the use of lots of exclamation marks!
I bought an almond croissant, une michette (kind of like a baguette folded in half but a million times nicer, which is difficult since baguettes are already amazing,) and I walked home, in the sunshine, smiling. A lady passed by with her wicker basket (for bread, no doubt,) and we said bonjour.
I had a ‘squee’ moment of just squealing in my head – This is the most adorable place in the world! Everyone is so nice! I can’t believe it; this is the cutest place ever… and so on. Not great poetry.
I’m also beginning to appreciate the deep, religious import of BREAD. When Jean drove me home after I had tea with him & Gabrielle on Wednesday, I asked him what shops were in his little village, which is about five minute’s drive from mine, called Les Adrets du Lac. ‘Un petite magasin, et un boulangerie,’ he said.
‘Ah,’ I said, ‘Un boulangerie, c’est tres importante.’
‘C’est nécessaire,’ he answered, without hesitation, with the utmost gravity.
Because no matter how small, it is necessary that there is a bakery within walking distance. In fact, I actually pass a bakery that is just around the corner from Verity’s, in a tiny block of shops, but I haven’t been to it because Verity said that they don’t bake their bread on the premises. Quel horreur!
In Les Adrets, I have counted two small shops (one is a grocery store, ‘Petit Casino,’ like Tesco Express, and one is a ‘tabac,’ which is a corner shop,) and two bakeries (but only one is worth going to). There is a pharmacy, a post office, the Town Hall which also shows one film per week, a doctor’s office/surgery, a very small shop selling local honey (I must go,) and two estate agents. There’s some kind of massage therapy place, and a hairdresser’s. There appears to be one bar/restaurant, one pizza restaurant, and one bar/cafe which is right across from the church. There is a tiny library which I should peek into if I ever manage to go when it’s open.
And that’s it: all one could want.
I spent the first week here reading Orlando. What an amazing book: utterly cracked-out on love. It’s Woolf at her wackiest and most lighthearted; it’s truly a romp. I loved it.
I’ve just begun Ulysses. Ah, from the female mind to the male!
I’ve been writing some various prose, and yesterday began to work again on my poetry play. It’s awful that I don’t usually do this, but I’m finally reading stuff aloud. I’m sure the cats appreciate it. And for the play, which is poems written ‘for voices,’ to be read aloud, perhaps for radio, c’est nécessaire.
I’ve done a bit of yoga. I’ve been watching BBC World News.
I rode Vespa down the Roman Road to Frejus; a stunning drive, breathtaking in its beauty and treacherous in its curves. Going about 25mph on a scooter makes it a pleasure. Cliff faces rise up on one side while ravines plunge off to the other. Cork oaks and rough heathers glow a dusty green in the sun.
A couple of cyclists, awaiting their companions at the top of the long, winding, challenging road, applauded me as I ‘vrim-vrimmed’ past, pumping their fists and grinning, as if to say, ‘you can do it!”
Vespa was shiny clean and I sat upright, utterly composed and dignified, and finally made it past them (with a smile).