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.