Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Outtakes: Memories of Provence

08/07/07 -- Like photographs, culled and cropped, notebooks filled with string rekindle memories of special times. This is from a March jotting.

Provence is old men with drooping mustaches and women, decked in colorful costumes, their hair a canvas of reds, blondes and purples.

It’s dogs – French mops and yellow labs, Jack Russells and cockers, bulldogs and poodles, lounging beneath bar stools and cafe tables, crapping on the street wherever they darn well please.

It’s song birds and flowering fruit trees, fast cars and pursed lips, the singsong of a language spoken with music and style, the dramatic sigh of a drawn-in breath, sashaying skirts and boots of fine-tooled leather.

It’s a frank stare and animated conversation in the market, a point brought home with the jab of a finger, the shouts of a vendor hawking plump strawberries near closing time, the smell of spices, the honey man, his hat pulled down low over his eyes to shade them from the brilliant sunshine.

It’s a bouquet of flowers, carried on a motorcycle by a tattooed guy who looks like he’d fit better as a bouncer at a topless bar than as a tender soul bringing his girlfriend (mother?) a placesetting for the midday meal.

It’s a cloudy glass of pastis, a wry sense of humor (“chat lunatique” one homeowner warned would-be trespassers ), five loaves of bread, carried in the crook of an arm on a brisk walk home. It’s the joyful cry of children playing and the body English of the old men playing boules in the town squares.

It’s life lived outdoors, succulent, graceful, ageless and iconoclastic, nurturing and sexy, thoroughly delightful.