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.


Gina said...

Try that in the streets of Manila (or kahit hindi sa Manila) kung di ba sila maghanap ng feet nila. (cruel ko ba?)

When I see feet up on the dashboard of a car, I can't help but think that whoever it is doesn't have manners. Ewan ko lang, baka i'm just being stuck up. pero parang it's not proper kasi .

Gina said...

correction: ..whoever does it

tommpouce said...

Summer in southern France: the heat, the cloudless sky. That's what makes it different from Summer in Holland!
Bare feet? At home, in the grass, on the beach, at work with trousers and shirt (yup). To me and my coworkers, no special meaning unless "it's too hot to wear shoes" means anything more than just that.

apol said...

GINA, exactly!

Bare feet hanging out of car windows, TOMMP! You have to be living in the South to appreciate just how many you encounter on the road.

ecstatic spastic said...

before i moved to the midwest the only place i ever saw people lounging in strips of grass wherever was in europe (i.e., whether it was a strip of grass by the mall, or on a sidewalk, or what) one did that in manila, and neither did they do it in california! but it's prevalent practice in the midwest, as it is in europe, i think.

haze said...

This is one thing I hate hanging your feet inside the car ! Gina is right...unproper thing to do, respect for others please lalo na pag mahangin baka may amoy pa paa :( !

mcsister said...

Love this post, especially the ending. I just wonder about the comfort of the foot hanger in the car... and if they are several people in a car, do they take turns hanging their feet out of the window?

I personally love bare, clean feet... it's very natural and unaffected :) Maybe I am a probinsyana and construction worker at heart...

Anonymous said...

I have actually seen one of my sisters-in-law do that in Vancouver, B.C. Canada as we were following them. I was disgusted and said to my husband, "Is she really doing that"?
Mind you, back in Bahrain, Arabian Gulf, I would have preferred the hanging feet over an Arab guy reading the daily paper while doing the driving - and this was on a 100 km highway!