Sunday, September 09, 2007



For three days I have been sharing a little hot provençal air and some fierce mistral wind with my mother, who has been visiting from Puglia.

With the excuse of three family dinners to come, and an urgent request for painting subject matter from the hemp heights of the studio, a tour of the gastronomic pleasures of Carpentras was in order.

Julian had wanted to paint a croissant a few days previously but had (on purpose, I suspect, so he could scoff them sooner) squished the two he had taken a special trip to find, so we started off by buying more plump buttery whirls of calorific suicide - in a box please, not a bag. At the ‘Marchés de Provence’ we weighed shapely ceps (another request) in the palms of our hands. Unfortunately, neither of these gifts from the muse ever made it onto the easel as Julian was taken by a sudden yearning for the sea, but they did make their way successfully to the artist’s stomach. In the market we bought a small bag of barley from a shrivelled grain of a man advertising his ‘nouvelle récolte’, which we later partnered in a fennel-new season’s-barley risotto with Coquilles St Jacques bought from our bright-eyed fishmonger (only after Mother had established the poor lass' complete maritime history). Throughout, Mother babbled in a sometimes senseless but always charming mixture of Verdian Italian, South London 50’s school French and Boho English.

At Vigier’s cheese shop, Mother – intolerant of cow’s milk - hooed and haaed and mama miaahed at the leaky creamy display of goats and sheep cheeses.

“Elle est pleine de poesie, cette dame” cried Madame Vigier.
“Ah, no, it is your shop and your formaggi which are ripieno with poesia, Madama”

Many grand gesticulations were made to accompany these exchanges.

We do not have an easy relationship, but, when I went up to check she had her water, or if she wanted a shower before retiring, three words that had not been spoken till now fell into our midnight embrace. Three words better spoken late than never and that always lighten one’s journey through life.

This morning I said goodbye and put her, along with with the book she has written on Monetary Reform for the Simultaneous Policy, on the train for her low carbon footprint journey back to her trulli near Brindisi.

Bon Voyage Mama Mia!

provencal lunch late summer.JPG


Blogger Miki Willa said...

I always look forward to your new posts. Your word artistry is very compelling and uplifting. Your photographs are so inviting. Thank you so much for sharing parts of your world.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous michelle said...

I really enjoy your blog. (I found your site through Julian's - I've been getting his daily paintings for about a year and a half now). Your site, however, is the only blog right up on my bookmarks bar; I check in periodically to catch up, and especially to enjoy the beautiful photos (which sometimes end up as my desktop wallpaper!) and,of course, your insightful posts. I realized it's my way of living vicariously in the French countryside. Thank you!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Peter (the other) said...

(muttering under my breath, "gott damn family of over achievers... grumble")

"...three words that had not been spoken till now fell into our midnight embrace. Three words better spoken late than never and that always lighten one’s journey through life."

Tell me you don't live well, go ahead, tell me! (grumble) And then you have to write about it so well, and play joyously, the cello.

But as you (and Julian) share it all so exquisitely, I shall temper my jealousy.

I hate to be a demanding reader, but as a cat person, I miss news of the cat.

6:27 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

thank you miki and michelle.

peter, we almost lost oscar last night. the hunting season has started here - mostly ghastly young guys with big guns not knowing what else to do on a friday night. anyway last night as we were sitting down to watch 'the lives of others' (highly recommended minus cat trauma), there were three shots in to the black night sky.

there followed whistling torch walks and dawn walks and a night listening to the silence of the cat flap....

at eleven this morning, just as i was about to give in to hysteria, the little chap with his big radiant soul turned up for brunch. how madly CAN we love our cats?

ps manon looks so pretty on the new floral french bedspread.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Peter (the other) said...

BAD! Oscar. Good Manon. (love sucks)

4:33 PM  
Blogger Kaycie said...

The bit about those three little words made me tear up a bit. I do not have an easy relationship with my mother, either. I understand what that means (at least to me). So glad you were able to enjoy her visit.

8:12 PM  

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