Sunday, April 18, 2010

Provence Trip Part II

Y’all, if my landlady doesn’t think I’m crazy after this morning’s escapade, then she is just not paying attention.  I’m expecting the Swiss Mental Health Patrol with a straight jacket with my name embroidered on the pocket to show up any minute now.  I was just outside bleaching roof tiles.

Well, that sounds silly, you are thinking.  Silly, but necessary.  Let me explain.  Domestic Son and Ms. Fiancee are getting married in August, as you know.  As the mother of the groom, I have been doing my job and planning the rehearsal dinner.  For those of you not from the US, a rehearsal dinner is held the night before the wedding after the actual rehearsal.  Traditionally, the groom’s parents pick up the tab for the dinner, therefore, it is the groom’s Mom’s responsibility to plan and execute the party, get it?  A completely American concept, I know, but we are Americans and we need to rehearse things.  Blame it on Hollywood.

Anyway, the theme of the dinner, I decided, would be a typical 4 course menu that we might enjoy over here in France or Switzerland out on a terrace amongst the olive trees and the vineyards, drinking local wine and listening to the cow bells.  (I have not figured out yet how I am going to get some Swiss cows into my backyard in South Carolina, but I am working on it.  I may just have to tape the sound of the cow bells and play it in the background.)

So far, I’ve bought the appropriate flowery tablecloths in yellow, orange, purple and other bright colors.  I found the slate tiles for the cheese course and the little ceramic picks that one places in the cheese wedges so people know what they are eating.  I’ve been planning the menu and experimenting with recipes.  As far as flowers, a typical little café or bistro table over here would have only a teeny, tiny arrangement in a teeny, tiny vase plunked in the middle of the table.  If I did that at the party, people would think I was being skimpy.

“Oh, poor dear.  Bless her heart.  She must have ran out of money by the time she got around to ordering the flowers.”  That sort of thing.  

But, I hate big arrangements that you can’t see around while you are eating.  Somebody always has to be the first one to take the bull by the horns and moved the damned thing off the table and onto the floor so they can see their dinner companions.  Then, a huge collective sigh is heard round the room and eighty-six other bulbous flower arrangements are immediately hoisted through the air and thrust out of the way.  Conversely, there is the tres trendy phenomenon of the Flower Tower.  This consists of a glass vase about as tall as an average 12-year old looming over the diners’ heads spilling forth trailing vines and whatnot down from above.  True, you are able to see through the glass and minor stemage to the other side of the table.  However, you then have to deal with the Rainforest Effect of foliage dangling over your head and catching on your tiara.  The flowers are just lurking up there like so many bats in a cave and one has to crane their neck skyward just to glimpse them.  I mean, why bother?  Save some money and buy dead flowers for these kinds of arrangements because no one is ever going to see the TOPS.  Ridiculous.  People, just because it is on TLC or HGTV does not make it good or right.

So, no looming and no bulbous.  All I really want is some sunflowers and some lavender.  Just wrap the stems together with raffia and lay them on the table.  So simple.  Too simple, really.  I can already hear it.  “What, we’re not good enough for a vase, even?  Is this how they do it in France?  They don’t even give you a vase?”  You get the picture.

But then, a brainstorm whilst driving through the Provencal countryside.  “STOP, MR. BIG!!!!”  Mr. Big, being the well-trained husbandal unit that he is, SLAMS on the brakes.  “LEFT, LEFT, turn LEFT RIGHT THERE!!!”

We screech into the parking lot of an architectural treasure lot.  You know what I’m talking about.  The kind of place that has stone fountains and stairways-to-nowhere lying around outside, with random old doors and marble planters strewn every which way.  Heaven, really.  Now, here is where “Provence” comes into the picture.  (You knew I’d get there eventually, didn’t you?) 

For the past two days, Mr. Big and I had been spectacularly spellbound by the terra cotta and ochre-colored roofs and buildings spilling down the hillsides of the ancient villages perches, or medieval “perched” villages in the area of the Luberon and the Drome in southern France. 

I had taken, probably, 200 pictures of just roofs and masonry over the last 48 hours.  (Don’t you know by now that I am a major weirdo?)  And, here we were, just driving by, a virtual MECCA of Provencal building blocks.

What if, I wonder out loud, instead of just laying the lavender and sunflowers on the tables, we cradle them in terra cotta roofing tiles along with a couple of baguettes?  “Trailing Spouse, I don’t know what the hell you are yammering on about but right now you need to get out of the car and attempt to speak French to this nice country-type person who is looking ominously in my window.”

That, my friends, is how I came to be bleaching roofing tiles in my little garden under the suspicious eye of my landlady.  I DID buy 20 ancient roofing tiles in Provence and they WERE covered with hundreds of years of spiders and dirt and one CANNOT serve baguettes off dirty tiles.  Even crazier, I am now about to weigh my 20 CLEAN tiles and find the 16 that are the lightest, wrap them in bubble wrap, and pack them in my suitcase.

“Excuse moi, madame.”

“Oui, monsieur?”

“What are those suspicious-looking items in your baggage that weigh approximately 1,015 pounds, sil vous plait?”

“Vases, of course, you cretin.”

Customs Officer looks sheepish and replies, “Mais oui, madame.  Bonne voyage.”

Oh, did I tell you that I am also on a hunt for authentic Laguiole cheese knives for the cheese course?  So far, I have found seven at a flea market in Buis-les-Barronies.  Only nine more to go.  I know my Small Son is reading this and thinking, “I am never getting married.  Because if that woman puts stuff about me on the internet like this I will croak of embarrassment.”

No comments:

Post a Comment