vendredi 18 mars 2011

Luck o' the Irish in France: An accidental St. Patrick's Day

Fia meets Flaque


Or the 1/8th Irish, to be exact.

Garden Dog and I took a break from the garden yesterday to go pay a visit to Garden Dog's little cousin, Flaque, in Viroflay. I knew it was Saint Patrick's Day, but it had slipped my mind until we passed the hospital on the way to the highway, and I mentally reviewed my outfit. Blue and gray and brown. Not a trace of green anywhere.

It's no big deal, said myself. Look around. No one's wearing green. It's not even that nice a color to wear, and it doesn't suit you. Besides, no one here even realizes it's the traditional day to put green food coloring in your beer and drink until you throw-up all over Fifth Avenue.

It was a consoling thought. Never mind that Mayor Bloomberg got in trouble for having a similar one. Nonetheless, I have only seen more very drunk people -- well, nowhere. Not even at a Fiji house party, where most of the beer was soaking into the floor and gluing us in place. I shudder, and it was a long time ago.

"But, what about the bretons? Do you think they are feeling any particular kinship toward Saint Patrick and the Irish in the Finistère?"

Myself was a little puzzled. We thought about it all the way to the highway, and then we forgot all about it following a very low truck. We had already left late and would never make it home at a
reasonable time to prepare dinner. I fretted and considered doing a U-turn, but I hate wasting a quarter of an hour, driving to the highway, only to turn back home. Besides, Flaque had been in Viroflay for 2 1/2 months, and Fia still hadn't met her cousine germaine.

That's "first cousin" in French.

Half an hour later, we pulled up in front of the gate and pushed it open. Fia knew where she was, but -- there was something new. She looked at me, and yanked me after her on the other end of her leash over the railroad ties and practically headfirst into the bushes. She sniffed. She raised her head and looked around, and then plunged her snout back into the dirt. Spinning around toward me, she got tangled in her leash and flashed me a look of incomprehension, C'est quoi ça que je sens? Mais! C'est quoi alors?

Oh, Fia. I knew, but how to tell her. It was why, in part, we had come.

"Tu vas voir, ma good dog, tu vas voir. Allez, viens."

It was a long trip to the back of the house, with Fia stopping to press her snout to the ground and tremble every few centimeters, but we made it. Marguerite and her friend were having goûter, and she flew to her feet when she saw Fia. I slid the glass door open and followed Fia into the kitchen, where she ran smaque into Flaque and ran straight for cover at Clémence's knees.

Mais quel courage! A 7 1/2-month-old, 24 kg Black Labrador cowering at the knees of a teenage girl, seeking protection from a 4 1/2-month-old Black Labrador about half her side. Now you know what Rapide suffers.

Daily.

We pushed them out the door and into the rear garden, Marguerite, Clémence, my belle-soeur and I right on their tails, where Fia would have all the room she needed -- to run and hide under a bush.

Mais QUEL courage.

It took a few minutes for Fia to recover from her shock and discover the joys of a little cousin, who will soon be a grown-up Lab just like she will be in a few months, and when 3 months will mean nothing, and they will be the very best of first cousins and friends.


But, it wasn't only to make the introduction of Flaque to Fia that we had come to Viroflay. The belle-soeurs had important belle-soeur things to discuss.

"Thé ou un jus de fruit?" she asked. "Pour toi, c'est un thé, non?"

"Oui, plutôt un thé," I said.

"Un peu du gâteau?" she offered. "C'est un gâteau de l'amitié, fait avec de la vrai levure."

"Tu sais, je mange pas vraiment cela," I reminded her, wondering why I had gone and done that. It smelled like heaven. Like beer and fruit and nuts. I nibbled a corner of the piece she had set on the counter for me and reached for the mug she had pulled down from the cabinet.

"Regards ce que j'ai pour toi," she said, handing it to me. I had seen it before. It was covered with brightly colored sheep and words. She held it so the word "crazy" faced me. I laughed. If belle-soeur conversations had titles, that would have been a good one for the sujet du jour.

I poured tea into the mug and looked more closely at the sheep on the inside of the mug. The green was not just green; it was shamrocks, and it said "Ireland" next to it. I could scarcely believe it.

"Mais! Tu sais ce que c'est aujourd'hui? I asked, certain she didn't.

"Non."

"C'est le Saint Patrick!"

"Non!" I scrutinized her. She seemed genuinely surprised, but she is a master of dry humor. I could be wrong. I preferred to think she did not know.

"Oui."

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, after all, and Erin go Bragh!
....


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