this huge clam is called, in french, an ‘anodonte.” in english we call them duck mussels or swan mussels, for what i assume are obvious reasons. in french it should be called the wild boar mussel. it sits in stagnant freshwater, filtering the world around it, and every once in a while, a large, bristly, tusked quadruped shows up, roots around, drags the huge mussel to the shore, breaks it open, and eats raw shellfish for lunch. in my son joseph’s class, one of his teachers recently remarked that the wild boar is called an omnivore, which was really selling it short. it will eat more things than are included in the term omnivore. it should really be called a “toutovore.” an “everythingvore.”
a joyous day to you, whatever you call it: christmas, noël, the holidays, a day off of work, the end of a terrible year. here’s hoping the day is full of human warmth, and a touch of the sublime.
laurier d’alexandrie (danae racemosa), a.k.a . poet’s laurel
this slightly hybrid christmas wreath–grapes and grape leaves, imitating holly and spruce–is an apt symbol of the christmas celebration we will have today in autignac france. some french leg of lamb, and some minnesota wild rice hotdish. some mediterranean oysters and some lapadat family apple delight. happy holidays to all of you in all traditions wherever you come from and wherever you have landed.
grape vine leaves, and grapes
today my mom arrived in france from my childhood home in shoreview mn, and my daughter arrived with her from my alma mater in palo alto, ca. a lot of circles got closed with their joint arrival in montpellier airport. and now we are sitting in a three-generational circle around the dining room table, drinking wine and talking. in circles.
striped beach rocks
these little temporary homes have me thinking about home, and what makes a home. our daughter is “coming home” here tomorrow after her first quarter at college. i think we have achieved something like home here in southern france, even though we do not own a house here. we feel a part of things. i think our fellow villagers think of us as belonging in some way that goes beyond tourism and vacations. steve says he’s his best self here. and yet, we could live here for the next twenty years, and we would never be from here. we would always be “les estrangers.” so…where is home, when you’ve fallen in love with more than one place on earth? is it where you live at the moment? where you are originally from? where you are your best self? where you feel most secure? where you are most at ease? where you are most inspired? where your most formative memories were made? or wherever your closest love ones are gathered around you laughing? where do you call home?
five nests from the vineyards
autignac, languedoc, france