Thursday, July 26, 2007

Signs of Summer

How do you know that summer in the South of France is in full swing?

Some will tell you it is by the unique sound made by the singing of cicadas.

Others will say it is all about the sweet scent of the lavender ready for harvest that perfumes the air.

There are those who will identify summer in the South with the fierce midday sun that scorches the skin; relief is found under the shade of a tree, a majestic olivier or a gorgeous platane.

For my husband summer begins when flocks of les hirondelles begin to fly over the ancient walls of Aigues Mortes. They make him remember the joy he felt at childhood, when the coming of the birds signalled the beginning of freedom, no more school and playing in the streets until nine in the evening because the sun did not set until an hour later.

I have lived here only two years, but already I have my own way of marking the season.

How do I know that summer in the South of France is in full swing?

Feet. Yes, bare French feet hanging out of car windows, they come in all shapes and all sizes, and in different degrees of cleanliness. June, July, and August come, and these naked extremities begin to wave at me on the roads, happily at never less than 30 kilometers an hour so that I never have to sniff this strange flower, for I am sure that the odor has nothing in common with that of lavender. I suppose that it is supposed to be a happy sight, the owners' declaration of freedom -- "Look! No shoes! Yes, I'm not in the office/school/metro!" -- but I cannot help it: Bare feet hanging out of car windows never fail to make me think of construction workers.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hi, There!

Okay, I'm still here. Whenever a funny thought runs through my head, I find that I haven't stopped telling myself at the same time, "Hey, I can blog that!" I suppose that means I don't really want to delete all this just yet. Still, I need a break, so I won't be blogging as often as usual until summer starts easing up, which happens end of August.

Meanwhile, I'd love it if you could drop by my Etsy shop. is a delightful website devoted to all things handmade. Crafts-crazy person that I am, I've been telling myself since late last year that I need to be in there. And, now, I am. I just have six items posted today--one of them the funny little lavender-filled bird in the photo--but I'll be adding some more tomorrow. Go! Now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fade Out

"... [A]fter a while, my brain seemed clearer. I was writing a lot more... ideas I had never thought of took me a while to figure out why it felt, you know, so different. And then, one day, …, I realized that I had spent the last two weeks away from most of my habits. TV was in a language I didn't understand... So, all I've been doing was... walk around, think, and write. My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. And I have to say, it was almost like a natural high. I felt so peaceful inside, no... strange urge to be somewhere else, to shop... Maybe it could have seemed like boredom at first, but it quickly became very, very soulful. It's interesting, you know?"

That was Céline, telling Jesse about a visit to Warsaw when she was a teenager, in that sequel that made us all swoon, Before Sunset. I don’t generally like using movie quotes when I write, but this particular passage was irresistible. Céline describes almost perfectly my experience after having just moved to France.

It was a strangely beautiful time. Without the distraction of all things familiar, I was able to step back, to cast a critical eye on all my so-called accomplishments and also to take a deep breath to face all that I had failed to do. I recognized clearly who I had permitted myself to be. After the not-always-pleasant self-examination, I received my gift: The radical change of address was the perfect opportunity to reshape my life into what I wanted it to be--creative and healthy, full of integrity and empty of bullshit.

Now I have a barrage of new habits to replace all the old abandoned ones, and although sometimes I do miss the quiet period, I also know that my mercurial nature can only take so much soulful peacefulness!

The point of this blog entry being: Provenciana, the blog, was meant to be fuelled by the energies of a Manila girl experiencing adjustment difficulties after moving to provincial France. When Provenciana, the person, has no more real adjustment difficulties, the blog becomes moot, doesn't it.

This is not yet a goodbye, but soon, I think…

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Social Creatures

Pierre and I used to think that we were solitary sorts, a rather picky couple who preferred being surrounded only by people we knew very very well. I don't know why we were so deluded.

For Pierre's birthday celebration (a barbecue, what else?) from an original guest list of eight, by the time Saturday came around we were a party of 14. At around two p.m. the doorbell rung. The voice at the other end of the white box announced: "J'ai un recommandé pour Monsieur Massebieau." ("I have registered mail for Mister Massebieau.")

We were both busy attending to the food, so it was great that some of the guests were nice enough to introduce the latecomer around. An example of how it went: "Charlie, I would like you to meet my friend, Isa, and Pierre and Apol's postman."

We really are very friendly, you see. The postier, whom we kept handing beers to but whose name we never did manage to ask, he ended up staying for a good part of the rest of the afternoon.
Mystery guest no. 15