Wednesday, July 21, 2010

French, french, french, french, french. In the past two days, I've had exhaustive debates (in French) about the American education system, the American loan system, the American health system, religion in the United States, racism in the U.S. vs. cultural chauvinism in France, imperialism in Africa, art as imperialism, and -- the longest -- the genius (or not) of Picasso. I've started rereading my New Yorker just to savor the ease of my maternal language.

Life on the farm is still great. I've got a nice shorts tan line and my legs are covered in insect and spider bites. I'm a real paysanne according to Claude. Which, coming from him, says a lot, as he's been doing this for 25 years and as I found out a little while ago that my nickname before I even got here was princesse. After I found that out, I tried to be facetious and said "Pourquoi pas déesse?" (why not goddess?). I spent an unfortunate evening being called princesse déesse.

The last four or five days we've had at least 11 people at any given meal. Not like it means any more work for us here; in fact, the visiters often help out in the garden, and always bring lots of food with them, do all the cooking AND all the dishes. We eat every meal outside, so there isn't much of a mess to clean up anyway. In fact, I'm rarely indoors here apart from sleeping.

We have our third market coming up this Saturday. Each week, about eight farmers get together and sell communally whatever it is they produce. Claude brings the bulk of the vegetables, and there's also goat cheese, sausage, bread, honey, olives/olive oil, eggs, and wheatberries. It's held in the old gendarmerie (police station, essentially), which I think is appropriately subversive. The first market, Claude stole the key to the prison. Although the idea of this market is wonderful, the execution is -- I suppose I'm a cultural chauvinist -- horribly French. The first week, we arranged the vegetables in three different rooms before deciding to put them outside. No one can figure out an efficiant way to keep track of who has sold what, and the various systems that have been tried are always complicated by the bartering between farmers that always happens and the constant nibbling on the cheese and olives. The first week, about eight customers arrived before the farmer with key to unlock all the doors. The customers' response: "I'll wait. C'est le sud." Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore -- or in any other state, for that matter. We Americans don't wait well. That said, the market has been going very well. Claude has been selling most of his vegetables each week, and the other farmers seem pleased as well. And I like my once-a-week excursion into civilization.

In about a week, another American WWOOFer arrives. Although it means that I'll speak less French, I'm pretty excited to meet her (and speak in English a little). And it'll be nice to have someone else to help me explain that actually pizza is American (I have stubbornly explained and re-explained that there are two sorts of pizza, one American and one Italian, but everyone just laughs) and cheesecake is delicious.

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