Treasure Island…..

A slight movement in my peripheral vision caused me to stop writing and to look down. The tiny worker bee, instead of taking advantage of its wings, was wearily trudging across an endless terrain of boulders, which is the gravel beneath my feet. Godlike, I watched it for a short time. It interested me as to why it was walking and not flying. The bee didn’t seem to be injured, but it behaved unusually: it was unusual to me as I am not acquainted with the subtleties of bee lore. It took seemingly unnecessary detours, turned in circles, paused to think, but always returned to the line along which it was advancing. The question of whether I could help the bee fleetingly crossed my mind and then, Godlike, I went back to my writing and created a memory.

landscape_Ars_10jul_065

Memories of yesterday conjure up images of inseparable blue sea and sky, bleached white walls, black painted spires and unbelievably bright coloured flowers growing up through the narrow pathways that lead through the town of Ars en Ré. Jenny and I had been invited by Laurence Méry Clark, authoress of “Je mange bien tous les jours”, to have lunch with her at her family holiday home. Île de Ré, the Vendéen island on which Ars is situated,bicycles_10jul_063 is the stuff of dreams in that it can be so unbelievably wonderful, as is often the case in dreams, but, like dreams, it’s not real. It is like the most delicious sweetmeat of which only so much can be eaten before your teeth fall out. The reality of the island can only be seen out of season or by visiting with people who have lived there and who have been part of this small community for years. Such is Laurence’s family.

laurence_portrait_10jul_047

We met her in a sun baked place, where all but us had taken shelter from the sun, so that she could greet us and guide us down the tiny “venelle” that led to her home. Sitting beneath the shade of a spreading catalpa tree in the white walled garden we ate my idea of a perfect summer lunch. This vivacious octogenarian had set off on her bicycle that morning to buy the fresh, live langoustines that were now before us; piled, pink and delicious, in a white bowl  adorned only with a bay leaf, from the court bouillon, like a feather in their cap.

crayfish_10jul_019

Langoustines and fresh mayonnaise were followed by a salad of roasted Mediterranean vegetables and couscous with good cereal bread.  A long white china dish filled with a  summer fruit compote of raspberries, redcurrants, and brugnons refreshed our palates and reminded us that summer was here, had we not noticed. Deep in conversation over bowls of dark coffee, the afternoon passed too quickly and we left the shade of the catalpa tree, said our goodbyes until next year, crossed the bridge and awoke from the dream.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, aubergine, Bay leaves, Coffee, Crayfish, Cuisine bourgeoise, desserts, Digital photography, Dreams, Drinks, Emotion, Excellence, Expectation, Fish, Fish stock, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Fruit, Garden, harmony, Herbs and Spices, Landscapes, langoustines, lifestyle, Mediterranean food, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, raspberries, seafood, Shopping, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Weather, wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Treasure Island…..

  1. lulu says:

    The magic of some days makes all the others more special. It looks like you enjoyed a beautiful setting in good company.

  2. Eha says:

    On a cold winter’s evening in the Antipodes I look at a wonderful face so full of joie de vivre and I too smile . . . thank you . . .

    • You’d like her, Eha. She’s a French Jewish lady who, with her family, survived the camps.She went on to be a self taught film editor ( friends with Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy) working in France and then in England. She’s married to Jim Clark, who’s one of the few English film editor’s who have won an Oscar ( The Killing fields). She’s 80 and still shopping on her bicycle and travelling back and forwards from London to France.

  3. Pure poetry, sounds like a delightful day. Wonderful picture of the cerulean sky too.

  4. lindapaupst says:

    Beautiful. I would love to have shared that lunch and visit with you.

  5. A perfect day and what a very beautiful lady….

  6. Mad Dog says:

    How wonderful – I looked it up, what a long bridge out there too!
    http://www.vendee-guide.co.uk/ile-de-re.htm

  7. sarahhedonista says:

    How beautiful. Love her smiling face.

  8. Roger, you just made me miss Europe. Very much.

    I love langoustines (though MTM has to behead them for me.) We cannot get them over here.

    • I’ll eat some more for you….I’ll take off the heads for you. I meant to say on your post about red T shirts and MTM: You can take the architect out of the black, but you can’t take the black out of the architect:)

  9. That was eautiful post all round!

    • ? What ‘appened there???? As I was saying, that was a beautiful post all round. I wonder if the bee wondered why you were staring at him….? I’m not a a sea food fanatic, because I always get shouted at for incorrectly dismembering them. You’ve captured a very sincere and happy smile – great photo!

  10. You learn something new everyday. I’ve never heard of langoustines until now. Good to know. Also, I’m starting to learn small bits of French. My pronunciation is ghastly, but there’s no one around here to take offense.

  11. Special day, Roger. And dreamy post.

  12. It sounds like a perfect dream. Hold on to it 🙂

  13. Michelle says:

    What a perfect day! And such lovely photos. But what was up with that abeille?

  14. Wonderful that you had fresh mayonaise. Sounds like a great day.

  15. She’s got a cracker of a smile!

  16. What an extraordinary woman. And what a gorgeous memory. Thank you for sharing.

  17. ChgoJohn says:

    An “octogenarian set off on her bike” That speaks volumes about the woman, as your photo speaks to her nature. How wonderful that you could spend time with her, Roger.

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