Sunday, July 15, 2012

A house, not in Paris, but covered in vines. I wake as early as I can force my body up – nearly noon – and scamper around the house, looking out windows and vantage points, photographing nooks, admiring sunlight in crevices or on the old chicken coop. C tells us later that there had been Easter chicks and a cock, and the woman who worked for them told them that the chickens had all been carried off by a fox. Strange, but no matter. More chickens were bought to raise. The next year, the same thing happened. All the chickens carried off by a fox. This, together with the fact that the orchard is full of healthy trees that never manifest ripe fruit, confirms C’s suspicion about the French in general and his housekeeper in particular. The French are lazy and try to get away with everything, he said with disgust, momentarily forgetting his thoroughly French heritage.

A and I walk into the village to buy baguettes. I practice the most important phrase I know, Est-ce que je peux prende deux croissants, and the women behind the counter consent. We eat lunch in the orchard, a glade on the side of the house clouded with trees and the sounds of humming insects. White butterflies zigzag and the grass shimmers like wavelets. I drowse in a low chair and feel Keatsian. The next few days repeats the process: most of the house wakes late, and we eat in the orchard. The humidity increases and nothing is more pleasant than a dip in the rocky-bottomed river. C’s favourite swimming spot is occupied by a young French fisherboy, and C curses him from what he perceives as our disadvantaged spot.

After two days in Joncy, the humidity builds up to an almost unbearable climax while we are at lunch trying C’s Ratafia, a heady local liqueur made of white wine, space, and fruit. The weather breaks suddenly, raining and then hailing fiercely. E runs about outside for a shower. Even the small arbour is no cover. We eat dinner inside and watch the storm with satisfaction. It appears that Burgundy cannot be satisfied without dramatics and we approve.

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