dimanche, novembre 05, 2006

06.11.05: Un an

The maple leaves are bronze, laying on the lawn in the front garden. The fog appears thick every morning lately; this morning the visibility was under 50 meters at the river's edge, the other bank barely discernible through the mist. In the early mornings during this most recent vacances scolaires, the quiet is as thick as the fog. This afternoon, bicycling, the breath visible, signaling the end of automne indien, full-fledged autumn now undeniably here.

It must be one year since I have been here now; the seasons have fully cycled.

Just like last year this weekend, the Sunday market was again a necessary pleasure of the day. Unlike last year, today, several of the vendors recognize me, look forward to a few pleasant words to exchange, a small sale of some bananas, merguez, saucisson dinde, and without fail, une tranche de cantal. The clémentines are in season again.

The clothes vendors were in full force today. At one booth I was encouraged to look at the Levi's. Sixty euros a pair for 501s. I bought a pair of 501s at Sear's last week in Cincy for 20 euros (oh yeah, I received a $15 discount for opening a Sears charge, which undoubtedly I will cancel, so I can get the same discount again next time I make it to a Sear's.) I didn't tell them how much less expensive I can get Levi's for in the US. What would be the point.

By the same token, I went to Carrefour yesterday to pick up some coffee and chocolate to bring to the US this week for some former expats who are on a "I need some french stuff that I can't get in the midwest" craving. So, that is the point. There are some very nice things to enjoy, wherever we are.

At the market today, two young women in white lab coats walked up to me and spoke for a few minutes, too quickly for me to understand what they said. After I said: "Je n'ai pas compris", they paused for the few seconds that it takes one to ask oneself what they said that wasn't understandable, before recognizing that I spoke with (just a little bit of) an accent (for them, anyway), and then they asked me where I am from. One of the two then explained, in a sort of hesitating, but perfectly understandable simple english, that they are med students collecting donations for a student association. When she finished explaining, she asked, rather shyly: "Did you understand me?", in a way that communicated that she had absolutely no confidence that what she said made any sense. It made me realize that when I speak french, although it sounds completely foreign too me, I can be understood, if they choose. And when french people speak halting high school english to me, I can understand, if I choose.

Maybe something to consider as we got to the polls on Tuesday, and in the days to soon follow. We think we talk in a strange language, not understood; but in fact, it's not that difficult, motivation to make a connection and a little patience going a long way to bridge the gap.

I gave the med students all the coins in my pocket. For me, that was the point. Just to prove that I really did understand.

I think I need to go rake a few maple leaves off the lawn.

Un an, et puis àpres? Je ne sais pas, mais je suppose qu'il serait intéressant, encore.