Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I Heart Tuesdays

I glance at my watch. It is still morning. I have one hour and thirty minutes of time for myself.

Great, I think, I can go into town and visit that place! It's Tuesday!

I bustle out the school's rigid gates and make my way towards the bus stop. The light that shines into my eyes makes me involuntarily crinkle my eyelids. I close my eyes and allow the light to bathe upon my cheeks. It has been so long since I've felt this gentle caress take me away .

As I wait for the bus, a few birds serenade me, breaking the monotonous silence. It has been so long since I've heard their welcoming song that I feel like they are giving a triumphant shout. These victorious harbingers, along with the rogue crocuses that coyly dot the plush emerald fields, are inviting a new season to come. The days in which I wore at minumum three layers of clothing are nearly a memory now.

I glance down to the pavement. My bare legs are such a contrast from all the dark tights and leggings I've seen all winter. The weather is still far too cold for my exposed limbs.

I must be crazy to have worn this dress today. It's so windy! But I made the right choice. My legs are so pale so at least now I can get some sun on them.

The bus arrives. The front doors open. I wish the driver a friendly "bonjour" as I step inside and search for a seat. I find one, next to the window. I close my eyes again and simply let the warmth fall on me. I think about those early Saturday mornings when my family and I would venture to the white-sand beaches in Key Biscayne and I would collect seashells. On those days, I crowned myself the Queen of Seashells. I had turf battles with the local crabs and try to claim them as my pets; one of them attempted to pinch me as a well-deserved lesson.

The bus rumbles into town. My nostalgic reverie comes to an end and I hop off with a skip. Oh, I hope she has poire today!, I think. I love poire!

I dodged my way around town, past the busy shoppers who were heading into different directions, each following the path they have traced in their minds of where they need to be. I knew where my path would lead me. I make my way into the building.

I see a cheese stand that glistens in a yellow hue. So many names. So many sizes. So many shapes. So many flavors. So many creamy textures. So many calories...I remember the chunk of Comté I have waiting for me at home. I plod away with a dejected whimper of remorse.

The boucher proudly displays the rosy cuts of meat. The various display signs naming each item draw my attention. How would I cook kidney? What must that taste like? Is that the cut of pork I need to make a Cuban-style roast? I'll try to make that next week.

The Spanish stand is still intact, and there are no black beans today. In fact, there will be no black beans until maybe the month of May when the vendor goes back to Spain. Darn it.

One whiff from the fishmonger's counter is unmistakable. I gaze at the white containers filled with ice cubes and fish that relentlessly stare back at me. It is unnerving to see how their mouths gape open with the shock that they are actually on land in a frozen home. Also, is the fishmonger himself cold? I would hate to be standing for 4 hours at a counter surrounded by nothing but cold. The pungent fragrance eventually overwhelms me.

I rush to the poultry stand and see what I miss at my local Carrefour: Bressan chickens with their heads still attached to their lifeless bodies. Perhaps one of them will be bought by a 75-year-old grandmother who will make a dinner for her grandchildren. Perhaps she will show them this chicken and, when they squeal in squeamish awe, explain to them that they should not ignore that what they will feast on that evening once appreciated living in an open field. I never wondered about these things in Publix when I purchased neatly styrofoam-packed chicken breasts.

I finally get to her stand. I see there are clementines from Morocco and mangoes from Brazil. The strawberries seem to be Spanish. I don't know her name, but I call her the Dried-Fruit Lady. She fixes her gaze in my direction and a wave of sudden recognition falls on her face.

"Bonjour," I chirrup when I see her smile back at me.

"Bonjour, what can I get for you?"

"Well, I--"

"Ah, je sais. I have poire and pomme aujourd'hui!"

YES!!! YES!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!! I love POIRE!!! And POMME!!!

Only a wide smile gives hint of the celebratory explosion that just happened in my mind.

"I'd like 100 grams of poire and then 100 grams of pomme, s'il vous plaît. It doesn't matter if you mix it up in the same bag."

"So, how have your plans been going? Are you any closer to staying longer in France?"

"Well, I did have a job interview a couple of weeks ago, but due to some legal hassles, I didn't have it."

"Ah."

"But I am certain that I would have gotten it had it not been for the contract duration. At this point, I think that I am realistically going to have to go back to Miami."

"Ah, well, but at least we've been having more sun these days! It is nothing like Miami weather, perhaps, but the sunshine does a lot for one's well-being."

"Oh yes. What I love about Dijon's weather is the fact that I can walk around the streets without having the impression that I'm melting."

She smiles at me.

"I'm sure that you'll find something. You are meant to be here. That will be 3,80 Euros. I'll even throw in some dried banana for you to taste."

I gladly make the exchange.

Everyone's voice mingles into the open and becomes one constant buzz that echoes throughout the building. Despite that everyone here is doing something different, we are all in this together, gathered to do the same thing and give each other some human contact. This is no mere place. I'd say it is Dijon's heart.


Barb the French Bean

5 comments:

  1. Beautifully written...fresh, picturesque, more like a story unfolding....Bravo!

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  2. Oh Barb, you are a master of good endings. Not only did the woman's kindness and "you are meant to be here" make me smile, but the fact that you dubbed the market the heart of Dijon almost brought me to tears! How true, and yet I had never thought of it! Great post. :-)

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  3. Never knew you were such a poetic writer. :)

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  4. Thanks so much, everyone! I was just feeling slightly poetic that day. ^.^

    -Barb

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Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb