Someone To Watch Over Me


France is a stern mistress.  She shakes me out and folds me up again, her own way.  Sheets must be ironed here, in a country where a handshake means goodbye.  One day I can speak clearly and with passion, the next day I ask a woman about a kitten and she thinks I want to buy a chateau.   

My American manners force me to beg for lessons in politeness all day long, from the pool guy, the house cleaner, the grocery clerk, the bakery girl.  And if forget to ask, I get the lessons anyway.  Grammar corrections are freely available too, from the flight attendant, the barista, the bookseller.  I welcome all this strangeness, but I could use a guardian spirit to whisper in my ear at opportune moments.

Today in Barjac, where this lady watches over the town, my fruit salad mocked me


in startling contrast to the beautiful gravity of the cheeses in the market.


On the road home, a former Gendarmerie was for sale, huge, imposing, and crumbling.  There might be a dungeon in the basement, but someone will probably buy it and turn it into a B&B.


As we were leaving Barjac we came across a group of women, standing outside around a wok full of oil.  They were frying up pastries for the senior center.  When I said they smelled good one lady shooed us away, saying “you’re too young!”  “That won’t last long” I replied. 

Laughing and wagging her finger,  she admonished me to profit from my time while I have it.   And so I should.  I’ll take her for my spirit guide for a time, a stranger who paused in her day to give me a lesson I keep needing to learn and learn again.  Make your time worthwhile, profit from what life brings you, find the lessons where you can.  What you think is Mickey Mouse might just be fruit salad.  And a chateau might turn out to be a kitten.  It’s a complex country.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France

4 Comments on “Someone To Watch Over Me”

  1. Lucy Vanel Says:

    Nice thoughts, Abra. Thank you.

  2. Abra,

    I’m so enjoying your blog, what a great insight into France. I always meant to be that backpacking college student in my 20’s . Hopefully I can make the trip when I’ve raised the kids,

    Thank you for letting me live vicariously through your blog.

    We miss you at PCN.

  3. Stephanie Says:


    I love your prose and photos and am living life vicariously through you. Thanks so much for adding a bright point to my day. I hope you enjoy Uzes and the environs as much as Charles (busboy) and I did and that you will be able to help us with trucs when we have a chance to re-visit.
    Best to you both.

  4. Margaret Pilgrim Says:

    We love Barjac and, in fact, visit every spring. Sometime try the charming Auberge des Ribes Hautes a couple of km northwest, specializing in duck products: foie, confits, fresh. We’ve enjoyed several good dinners there. If you go on Sunday night, you will be treated to some of the best country people-watching, as patriarchs take their expanded broods out for a meal. Other restaurants that work are La Rennaisance and, maybe, Chene Vert, which used to be very good for simple meals (steak frites, andouillette, etc.) but has changed hands.

    Our heart is the chambre d’hote, La Serenite. Catherine is one of our favorite people. She will reinvent your love of life!

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