27 March 2009

Dreaming of My So-Called French Life

Is spring really here?  Really, is it for sure spring yet?    It has been such a cold winter for Houston and everyone is so tired of it.  I know it can’t compare to what those in the north have to suffer through, (and suffer you must surely do!)  but still, this winter it was actually cold here – and for a long time.   Most winters, we have spells where you can wear T-shirts around during the day, but that didn’t happen this year.    And yes, while  I do consider anything lower than 65 degrees to be freezing – it’s all in what you are used to.     March is usually when we start wearing our summer clothes in Houston, but not this year.   And how about this – every time you think winter is truly over and you pack up all those sweaters and fleece, isn’t it always sure to bring on that one last cold front?  This summer when we will all be miserable and complaining, I know I’ll regret saying this, but – I’m so ready for hot weather!!!  My flowers are freshly planted and we’re holding out hope that our huge oak tree is going to make it, but it looks like we have to wait another year or two to be absolutely certain.   I planted a ton of caladiums last week and I can’t wait for them to peek out of the ground and unfurl their huge elephant-like ears!    Do they have caladiums in France?   I wish I had a French garden, with a row of plane trees growing outside a bastide made of limestone with light blue shutters.  And there would be lots of lavender and tall, cypress trees, and gravel paths lined with box.   One of my favorite blogs to read and dream about is Vicki Archer’s French Essence.  Vicki is from Australia, but she now divides her time between London and her house in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, the poor girl.   In Provence, where she and her family grow olive trees, Vickie wrote the book “My French Life”  all about her experience of falling in love with a French ruin and turning it into this:

 

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Vicki Archer’s house in Provence with its tiled roof and blue shutters and pergola surrounded by flowers.  “Mas de Berard” Vicki calls it, I call it a dream.

 

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Vicki’s terrace where they take drinks and dine – how gorgeous is this?

 

Vickie’s book “My French Life” has inspired me to think of writing about MY life.  After all – it’s just as glamorous.  Working titles are “Being Born in Galena Park Didn’t Hold Me Back.”   (Yes, I spent the first year of my life in that booming metropolis, Galena Park, near the stinky Houston Ship Channel.)  Or how about this title  “A Life Divided: Houston and South Padre Island.”    Wait, I have a few better ones:  “A  Grocer’s Daughter, a Landman’s Wife,  A Shopping Fool’s Mother.”    hmmmm – doesn’t quite have the same ring as “My French Life.”    OK, try this one:    “From Secretary to Interior Designer to Blogger – A Road Never Taken”   or  “Pretending A Spec House’s Backyard in Texas is a Lavender Farm in Provence.”    My favorite though is “My So-Called French Life.”     I’ll let you know the final  title when the publisher calls.

So, I don’t actually live Vicki Archer’s life (that’s for sure!) but I can dream, can’t I?   A psychiatrist once told me that when you get down or get the blues, you should imagine you’ve won the lottery and what you would do with it.    I hate to sound so superficial, but sometimes it works.  OK, let’s play.   What would it be like to move my family to Provence and tend to this garden?   It’s available!!!

 

“Le Dream:”

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Every morning I would get my bicycle out and ride down this gravel road to the village bakery for fresh hot coffee and a croissant.   If I can move to Provence, do I still need to cook?

 

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I’d come back laden with the daily papers and bakery goodies and have my butler Pascal ring that bell on top of the bastide to wake up my lazy  family (some things never change.)   We’d eat the pastries and drink the coffee and read the paper sitting outside under the umbrella.   Pascal’s wife Charlotte would whip up lunch for us to eat here too.   

 

 

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After breakfast, Pascal would set up a little bistro table with a chair for me to blog away on, right under the shade (we’d have wi-fi, of course.)  All the while my dog Georgie would be swimming in the pond and Sammie Jo would bark at the squirrels (do they have squirrels in Provence?)  Ben would head back upstairs to his bedroom, at the front, right, to sleep the morning away (probably nursing a migraine) and occasionally he’d wave at me down on the gravel terrace.  Elisabeth would be gone – driving into town for a bit of shopping!

 

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After lunch, Ben and I would go to the ruins for swimming under the hot summer sun.

 

 

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After the swim,  we would go back upstairs to change out of our wet clothes and shower for an early evening.   We’d wait for Lizzy to come home and then we’d watch the Purple Martins fly into their cute little house.  Or is that a dovecote?    OK, we’d wait for the doves to come fly back.

 

 

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Before dinner, we’d take a leisurely stroll through the  gardens, taking the time to actually smell the roses. 

 

 

 

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 And dinner would be set up here, with a white table cloth and lantern light, watching the sun set over the mountain range.    Maybe, just maybe we’d have a glass of wine for the occasion.    And then, it’s back to the house for a quiet night in, watching a few good oldies on DVD.  

 

 

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Just to wake up and do it all over again! 

 

I hope your weekend is filled with wonderful dreams that one day might just come true!    To read Vicki Archer’s “My French Life” go here.   To read Cote de Texas’ “My So-Called French Life" go here.