Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Secret Mission

The sun trickles its way across the dark wardrobe. The air coming in from the window, slightly ajar, is fresh. You look out and see a picture perfect blue sky. Closing your eyes, you feel the wind catch slightly on your face and you hear the sweet sound of chirruping birds and the softly distant sound of a bell, tolling Matins. You look back towards the bed and see your beloved gently snoring, splayed across the bed like a child. You smile and return to the few pages left of your book.

As he awakes, your man suggests a lovely surprise for his father and the guests of the last two days, an aunt and uncle. His suggestions pleases you as you wish to do something nice for these two lovely people. Almost instantly after meeting them you warmed to them, their presence in your first few days in France a sweet and unexpected blessing.

Quickly you both dress for the day, whispering in hushed but fervent tones about favourite topics. Quickly you both slip out of the house, trying not to wake anyone. Out of the gate you wander down the lane, chattering and admiring some of the fruit trees belonging to neighbours. The apples seem bonny and abundant and surprisingly flush for the time of year.

You turn to the main village road, pass by the park and cross the street quickly. The road is actually quite busy for the morning but not unexpectedly. People are racing back to work and home after France's National holiday, a long weekend this year. You can even still see a little of the detritus of the weekend's festivities and fireworks along the curb.

The houses of the village press close together like long stone snakes bordering the roads. The early morning sun presses against their shuttered windows. Were it not for the constant bustle of passing cars and trucks, you would have felt quite alone in the streets, so few living things are in your path except the odd cat and the swift-darting barnswallows. But the scent of the flowers are quite alive as you walk, some well known like the deep red roses splashed across the farm building and some haunting, unknown perfume--green yet sweet.

You pass under the blue shadows of the tall, typical Eastern French church. You both pause to admire the tower, topped with a weathered but proud cockerel before continuing on to your destination--the bakery. The shop is quite modern looking, inset amongst the archaic stone buildings. You look in the window and realize that there is indeed life stirring in the quiet country village.

As you enter, an ancient but proud-looking little lady passes by you, a bread loaf half her size tucked almost militarily under her sweatered arm. She greets you with the abbreviated street-greeting so familiar to you now--'Bonjour M'sieurdame'. The greeting is echoed by the cheerful baker's wife, young and energetic-looking. Your darling quickly asks for all the remaining ten croissants, freshly baked that morning. His eyes wander to the little quiches beside the croissants and folds to temptation at the thought of having good French quiche. He orders two. You must hurry out and no longer tarry as people of all shapes and sizes suddenly try to squeeze into the shop, waiting for their daily fresh bread. The village, it seems, is now awake.

You take a quieter, quicker route home, admiring the still-flowering wisteria crawling across the expanse of three stone houses. Faces are now peeking through windows as you pass. The waking of the village has happened so quickly, you're almost breathless. An old lady waddles along the narrow alley to her garden. A troupe of young men discuss loudly as they start working on refurbishing a house. A child babbles as a mother coos in some unseen upper floor. The buttery scent of the croissants drives you on to quickly get back home.

Flushed with excitement and the walk, you both dash through the gate and up the hill to the veranda, laying your treasure out on the table for the sleepy-eyed but obviously pleased guest. Breakfast goods are gathered up and all emerge to partake of the coffee, juice and croissants. You share a bit of quiche with your sweetie and your eyes widen at the beautiful taste of the eggs and bacon. This is nothing like the quiches you've known from Canada. It's far more dense and rich. You know how much the quiche means to him, so you refrain from grabbing the rest. Instead you sink your teeth into a flaky, buttery croissant. Again your eyes widen as this freshly made treat melts against your tongue. 'We ain't in Canada anymore, Toto', you think. They may not be the prettiest you've seen but their bare touch of salt and understated sweetness are infinitely superior to anything you've had before, at least in recent memory.

As you listen to the conversation open up around the table, blending with the hum of a distant lawnmower, you realize that this really IS the life.


Christine said...

Now see what you've just accomplished? This is beautiful and I was right there with you as you walked through that sleepy venerable village; I tasted the warm buttery croissant and even smelled the coffee. Words are such beautiful things. No photos necessary!

Michelle said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. You don't even need pictures, as you've falsified the old adage; pictures make speak a thousand words, but your words speak volumes by themselves. Bravo!

Zoomie said...

Who needs pictures when we have your lively prose!

Nerissa said...

Awww... thank you all for your kind words!

C: I'm glad I could bring you along.

M: I think you are right as not a single picture could have articulated what it could not see.

Z: Man... I definitely need a cheerleader like you on my gloomier days.