22 September 2006
At last, a good day!
Yesterday was supposed to be a calm day. Marc was off at another all day meeting. I was at home with the kids. All was well, or at least normal, in our little corner of the globe. Then I opened my front door at 8:15 to have a little smoke break before the madness of child-raising began. I quickly regretted it.

It’s grape harvest time in the region. It’s that time of year where temporary employment is easy to find—if you’re willing to work yourself to the point of death everyday for a week or so. The grape harvest. Fall is here.

The local boys started the process last week. On a Wednesday. They try to do this on the weekend because then the sons and sons-in-law, daughters and daughters-in-law, and the grandchildren can all be part of the fun. This year nature didn’t cooperate, so their first go was right in the middle of the week.

And like every year, I got a visit from the good-looking guy down the street, Franck, wondering where I’d stashed his pecan pie. The one I hadn’t made. Because as I tell him every year, he’s got to give me a little notice. I can work miracles in the kitchen, sure, but making something without ingredients is a little more witchcraft that I’m capable of.

He invited me across to have a glass (or five) of champagne in any case. I learned that the next day of picking had been scheduled for this weekend. “Hey Franck, no problem. I can make you a pecan pie for next Saturday and leave it with your mom because Marc and I aren’t going to be here.” “Ah, Doris, I love you still.”

Today, Friday, Marc has another all-day meeting. In Reims this time. So it’d be convenient for him to stop at the only grocery store in Haute Marne that always has the things I need. And this is what we’d planned on, except this is Po-Dinkville, and you can never plan anything.

Back to yesterday…I go out with that first cigarette of the morning clenched like a lifeline between my fingers (artificial sanity is what they are for me) and find cars and cars and cars and lots of old men mulling around, and the crates they use to put the grapes in to bring them to the press and everything else I’d expect to find on the day of the grape picking. And this scared me. I went to bed on Wednesday night and woke up on Saturday morning? How is this possible? It’s not.

DO NOT PANIC. My MIL showed up, with her sister, who fired off questions about the babies like a machine gun. I told them I needed to go shopping, that no one told me they’d moved the harvest and if I didn’t have a pie waiting for Franck, he’d never ever flirt with me in public again, the horror. So she offered to take the kids. I then told her I needed to go to Saint Dizier, a 40-minute drive (one way), and she wavered a bit. But her sister jumped in and saved my life, bless her, saying; “Oh, I’ll get to visit with the babies!” with so much enthusiasm that I actually felt a little better about being stuck in an impossible situation.

So off I went, grumbling, worried how I was going to manage to get back from town, feed both children and bake a pie before 1. But the gods were with me. I didn’t catch a single red light in the entire ville of Saint Dizier. Not. A. Single. One. Saint Dizier only has a handful of lights, and compared to where I lived in NC, where there was one traffic light per inhabitant, it takes no time even if you hit all of them on red. But they were all green! I made it to the grocery store where I usually find everything I need without any problems. But they’ve recently moved things around (WHY does EVERY grocery store on the planet do that? Just when you’ve gotten used to where everything is, poof! Let’s change it again! Why? Why? Why?), and I was lost for a few minutes. Grr. They’ve put in a new section, though, and I am pretty happy. It’s all foreign foods. See:

Those are corn nuts y’all! And Orange Crush! (I couldn’t get REM out of my head after that.) And Oreo cookies! It’s like a care package, only no one had to care. I also snagged some real Chinese things, a few North African goodies, and a Polish pickle because there are no Jews around here, thus no kosher pickles.

Orange Crush in France! The new section in the grocery store is there mostly for the other-than-French ethnic groups that live in the area. But Orange Crush, that’s like American, right?

Ya know, there are people back home who are thoroughly convinced I moved to France to become a Communist and join the Taliban. So I guess having these bottles in the house will just seal my conviction. Oh well.

Follow me, don't follow me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
Collar me, don't collar me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
We are agents of the free…
posted by Doc at 08:34 | Permalink |