I just got an email from a friend, with photos of herself and friends at a Paris museum gala. I had to laugh. They looked so nice, all dressed up, and here I am trying to keep the mud out of my car and the ticks off Jacques.
Why, you may ask, why would I subject myself to this? Well, remember when I was so pleased to have passed the intermediate-level French exam? I got over it. Not long ago I actually gave a paper in French, did I mention that? But a friend had to edit it for me, Google French being not quite the same thing as real French. It was necessary, but a bit embarrassing. I’m a big kid now. I want to do my own editing.
So here I am, in my one-room, one-student classroom.
So here Jacques and I are, for two weeks, staying in the little cabin to the right of the not-much-bigger house, in that top photo. I figured, rightly, I think, that it would take two weeks to bring my French to a dead halt — my faking-it French is not all that bad — and then let me spend some time beating my head against the wall of my own ignorance. I am at the head-beating stage now. My goal is to get past it, get past the baby talk that I get by with and add in, you know, adverbs in the right place in the sentence, that kind of thing. French has these things called pronominal verbs, I think they are verbs, which I avoid like the plague. I need to get over that. Verb tenses other than basic past, present future? French has a ton of those. I need to figure out what they are and what to do with them. It’s a tall order. I’ll get there, but right now I’m mostly glad I didn’t sign up for three weeks.
Belle-ile is pretty, though, no question. Right now the weather is okay. And the teacher is good. Michel Denance: I can highly recommend him. He balances friendliness and professionalism quite well and he has patience to burn. Plus, bless his heart, he makes lunch every day. Another French thing I haven’t worked out is how they cook actual meals in those awful kitchens. If it weren’t for Michel I’d be eating some ghastly packaged food.
This picture is of a neighbor’s garden, Le Jardin de la Boulaye. She has five hectares, which she has cleared and organized. It’s stunning and open to the public by reservation for paid visits. One day I may go back and walk her replica Chartres labyrinth. I don’t have a photo of Sarah Bernhardt’s house. It is perfectly sited, protected from the wind but still right at the ocean. But the state owns it now and it is all cleaned up and ready for hordes of summer visitors. It’s conceptually very cool, but this garden is prettier.
I think Jacques would be happy to stay here and no question, it’s a lovely place. But at the end of my two weeks, I think I’ll be ready to go home.