February 02, 2007

Home…one of those good four letter words.

The four letter words…
I often remind myself that besides my own double-barreled foursome, some of my favorite words are as easy as 1 2 3…4. A French friend once asked me about why our English ‘four letter’ words were so dangerously close to other words. I had told him that shut and fork were just a matter of clear pronunciation. I reminded Olivier who rode a moto, sculpted bois, and liked to eat foie gras that there were more interesting four-letter words than the ones shouted by heavy metal music groups- the source of most of his English vocabulary.

I countered with a list of my own:
Kite and boat speak to me of wind,
Sail, wave, port, land,
Kiss, face, love,
and veau go well with
warm, cool, rain,
full moon
Just to name a few.

Tonight, in the jet-lagged, full moon four-lettered February night I type the best quatre-lettres word I know—h o m e.

Home after three months and several thousand miles of travel, multiple spare beds, dinners with friends, playing in strange kitchens, and eating as many corn tortillas as one person is allowed to eat in that time. What wonderful times with good friends and family as we celebrated again and again, from NYC to Portland to San Luis Obispo “an excuse to be together”.

Home, at last.

Home by car, train, plane to a quiet boat on a canal in France. Twenty-nine hours of travel. Bad planning for a pro.

Home to a winter beautiful garden where hand-sculpted roses and hedges are revealed in the beacon night light. The French garden fairy has been by recently.

Home is a green water canal so clear that today as I check the propeller, the bottom reveals a bottle of unopened vodka that tumbled off the gangplank one summer- the seal lies unbroken. The boat is stone cold but warms quickly until the last of the furnace fuel exhales a gassy breath and goes quiet. The full moon assists a flashlight as I search for the mischievous short circuit that is jumping the electricity off. Ahhh, life in the country; never easy, always something to do.

Home, here, is so quiet that it echoes off the old stone walls that welcome my bags of insignificant gifts that I ferried from airport to airport. What was I thinking? That the Fahrenheit oven thermometer would make me feel cozier than the cheminee? That the Trader Joe’s insulated shopping bag would be so chic at the Nerac market? I was too long a member of that consumer society to say no. I’ll unpack the rest tomorrow.

I arrived home, here to Camont, last night at 8pm with a cheese sandwich from the bakery in Brax bought on the way from the train station; Tony and Margaret picked me up in Agen and helped unload the impossibly heavy suitcases then gently left me to soak in the silence of the country night. I found one bottle of wine made by friends tucked under the counter. It is delicious, French and sells for just 4 Euros. And although Saint Marie-Rose had stopped by and cranked the heat up today, it takes a small fire to warm this winter soul. The wood is damp but it burns bright. I eat the sandwich next to the flames; I warm the wine in my hands. My first French meal home.

My inner clock is so turned around that now at 2:30 in the morning, I realize I am napping at bedtime and sleeping at naptime. Who cares? The first days rediscovering the joys of home will smooth the circadian rhythms to a Gascon pace. By Saturday, I’ll be up early enough to go to the market, fill the Trader Joe's bag, stock the French Kitchen pantry and begin to walk the towpath with Bacon looking for stories of my French Kitchen home.

Cooking classes start soon. Winter food first-- confit and cassoulet. Food that takes time to cook and allows writing in between stirring the pots. Winter is a good time to get to know the food of my Gascon home. Wednesday afternoon, when the kids are out of school, the big kids will be learning and cooking in new series of French Kitchen Adventures- A Gascon ABC: a French Kitchen Primer.

This is all about three more four-letter words-- Cook Good Food.


joanne said...

Welcome home Kate! welcome back to sweet, sweet Camont and all that's real to you. I stood watching that same moon rise tonight on this side of the world, full and bright, as the light turned soft peach. I had rake in hand, my first serious session of pruning-weeding-raking and oh my back! But good to know you were on the other side, by the canal looking at the same moon.


cityfarmer said...

when I get home from ANYWHERE even the grocers I put my jammies on...
get the picture?

Kate Hill said...

Oh, how I love the idea of going to the market in my pyjamas! I already have a reputation here as the 'la folle Americaine'. But until the weather turns warmer, I'll tough it out in my Oregon green sweatshirt and baby blue crocs. What fashion sense!

cityfarmer said...

Start a trend, why not?