The Equally Awesome Other Side of France
Mémé is 82 years old. She lives in her house in Saint-Trivier-de-Courtes, France. This small village in the middle part of France is four hours by drive from Paris and one hour away from Geneva, Switzerland. In 2008, it was reported to have a total population of 975. Everytime we go to Yoann’s hometown of Montagnat /mon-ta-nya/, we drive for about 45 minutes to her house on our way back to Belgium. When we visit her, we make sure to go around the garden and we always end up with some more fresh produce on top of the carrots, potatoes, salad, onions we already have in the trunk.
The Garden’s Keeper
When we visited Mémé last week, we changed our usual routine of going straight inside the house and visited the garden right away. Winter has passed, you see. Like us, the plants are also stretching and basking in the springtime sunlight amidst occasional cold breeze. In truth, we are too weak, the sight of flowering salad leaves lured us into the yard almost immediately.
In the garden, I saw the neighbour’s cat, Ismi, walk through the newly ploughed land from outside the fence. I watched him approach Mémé. Not a glance back. This cat, Ismi, he seems to have completely forgotten our last visit. As if reading my thought that I expect him to merely pass us by, Ismi started rolling his dark, fluffy body around infront of me and Yoann. Ismi has a bright tummy! Mémé also laughed at his playfulness. I have no clue what he’s going to do next.
We met Ismi for the first time around two months ago during our last visit chez Mémé. We were having dinner and he was by the window sitting outside. He would glance at our small group once in a while. I got up to talk to him and that’s when Mémé mentioned his name. She also said that Ismi is her neighbour’s cat. That first encounter, Ismi looked at me once or twice. Have you met a cat that glances instead of stare? That’s Ismi.
Dining With Mémé At Last
After a good 30 minutes of admiring Mémé’s beautiful budding plants, coupled with constant head shakes in slight disbelief and total admiration of how she does gardening all by herself all these years, we headed back inside her house and settled in the dining area where Mémé has prepared a feast before our arrival. The three of us, Yoann, her and I would share her red wine, saucisson, cornishon, baguette, a variety of French cheeses, creamy desserts, and finally a good cup of coffee.
Mémé drinks wine, pas beaucoup /pah bukuh/ (not a lot), she would say when she sees you are about to pour wine into her glass. I would oblige and pour in un petit peu /uhh petih pwu/ (just a little bit). Yoann makes sure to remind her not to prepare a main dish since we’ll be passing by after lunch, but we will be too full and happy by the time we remember we just had lunch.
Yoann loves Mémé very much, and I love her. Happy mother’s day, Mémé! Bonne fête!
The end (of famine).