GARDEN MOMENTS

The Bench by Edouard Manet 1832-1883

Short Story

This idyllic garden scene reminds me of my grandmother’s little courtyard before entering what I thought was a mansion.

Placing twine and pruning shears in her checkered apron pockets and me carrying the basket ready to be filled, we followed the fragrances of the garden.  All the herbs of Provence were there, plus gorgeous roses, of which I would secretly snip one and quickly carry off to place in a bud vase on her nightstand.  I continued this tradition by plucking Hibiscuses from my mother’s flower patch.  Now the roses I grow remain uncut as they stretch to the sky for them.

I’m so glad you sat with me on this mystical bench.  Hopefully you come away refreshed and happy.

TREASURED

A Special French Wallpaper

Short Story

Each time I visited with my Maman Denyse over the past 30 years, she would surprise me with a gift from my ancestry because she knew I love my French heritage.  On this momentous occasion, she unraveled from the armoire this patch of wallpaper which I immediately recognized had hung on the walls of my grandmother’s parlor.  You can still notice the shadows of the kerosene lamps that had stained the wall behind the chimney mantelpiece.  “You keep it, I know you will preserve it,” Mother said realizing she was passing along a memory of her mother’s house.  I replied ‘I will frame and hang it in the dining room – there it is to this day.

If you look closely at the design, you will notice various aspects of French country living.  See the lady pressing grapes in the barrel, well, I’ve done that too while spending summers with my grandmother.  My cousin Cri-Cri and I came out of the barrel wildly purpled and satiated by the grapes!

I thank God for being sentimental with an enriching upbringing, which has become a blessing – a treasure trove for writing…and recalling this happy story!

Thanks for listening…

MA BELLE

Image from @PlantsandBeyond.com

Inspiring this…for Ma Belle Any

HAIBUN

Cypress trees, lavender and wild flowers all sketch this unique landscape of Provence, France  – with deep family roots so close to my heart.  My cousin Any still lives there where I first saddled a horse and we enjoyed fabulous banquets on the hilltop.

HAIKU

THE CLIMB WAS STIFLING

REACHING FRESH AIR ON THE LEDGE

PAISLEY CLOTH ARRAYED…on rocks

…with all kinds of gourmandise to satisfy our hunger and thirst…

…then siesta…to climb down the hill…

 

CLAFOUTIS

Plum Clafoutis

HAIKU

END OF SUMMER

PLUMS BACKED IN CREAMY CRUST

INSTEAD OF CAKE

…what my mother always baked for my birthday…

*

RECIPE

This is a traditional French Autumn dessert of halved plums baked in a creamy crust

Ingredients:

4 1/2 oz. milk

4 1/2 oz. light or heavy cream

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

4 extra large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp. flour

1 oz. butter, not salted

 3 to 5 large plums, stones removed and halved

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. cognac, optional

powder sugar to sprinkle on top dish

serve hot or warm with whipped cream

Preparation:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Pour the milk, cream and vanilla into a saucepan and boil for 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
  3. Tip the eggs and sugar into a bowl and beat together until fluffy, fold in the flour a little at a time.
  4. Pour the cooled milk and cream into the egg and sugar mixture, whisk lightly.  Set aside.
  5. Place a pat of butter into your baking dish and melt in the over until foaming, remove dish and place the halved plums in a circular fashion, sprinkle the brown sugar and bake for 5 minutes.  Next, pore the egg batter over the plums and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.

…and voila…your clafoutis is ready…Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

REMEMBERING

Vintage French Enamel Stove

Remembering my Grandmother Mame’ Jeanne

August 18, 1888 – July 9, 1973

Mame’ Jeanne was the only grandparent I knew.  She welcomed me into the world with great kindness and love, teaching me everything I now cherish, most especially Faith.

A strong yet humble woman with persevering faith, Jeanne Davin became widowed early in life losing her husband, son and raising three daughters while operating the family butcher shop.  Then came the German occupation, life became dangerous – Thank God, my family survived.

The stove above resembles the one that kept us warm in winter.  Her favorite room was the kitchen where she would concoct superb French meals, teaching me how to cook and showing me how to iron perfectly on the butcher block table…so thankful she infused the love of being woman.  Besides that and more, she was an impeccable seamstress and cut her own patterns for customers and loved to surprise me in donning the prettiest original dresses growing up.

As if yesterday, these magical moments spent together still resound fresh in my heart…especially when she took me to Lourdes and when we saw on TV man walking on the moon.

iron gate

This is the iron gate through which I last saw my Mame’ Jeanne so many years ago.  Through the gate she placed in my hand her lifelong amethyst rosary from Lourdes.  Today, holding it, praying with it, reaffirms all these affectionate memories of my dear French grandmother.

PS: I once had a beautiful dream with her.  My mother had just passed away and I was yearning for my family.  I was searching for them holding on a long scroll, when my grandmother appeared and said to me:  “write now, when you finish writing all your stories, I will be there waiting for you.”