“Monday in the Rain” – by Debbie Ambrous

May 28, 2018 – Mondayof the Burgundy, France Journal

Published normalement (normally) bi-weekly on Sunday

Dark, threatening skies.  Thick, gloomy, impenetrable, fog.  Crashing, jolting thunder.  Cold, pounding rain.   A creaking, banging shutter.   Writers employ all of these elements to heighten the drama and set the mood of the story.  Monday alone causes distress for many working people without playing with the weather elements.  My Monday had all of the awful weather elements with the exception of the creaking shutter.  The worrisome, impending lack of medicine was pounding repeatedly in my mind like a shutter in a howling wind since the package was still in the post office in Alabama taking a personal holiday on Memorial Day weekend.

I was determined to break out of the gloom and enjoy the day as much as possible.  I would not hole-up in the house when we could surely find fun somewhere, if not blue skiesBeaune, a beautiful town with many shops and restaurants, is a short drive from Arnay-le-Duc.  Surely, I would find enough colorful distractions there to lift my spirits.   Many businesses in France are closed on Monday!  How could I forget?  No blue Mondays, or stressful Mondays for the French workers!  Are you packing to move to France spurred on by that bit of trivia?  I had checked the address of a tea shop where I hoped to find my favorite teas, but they were closed.  At least the streets were less crowded, and I could window shop.  It seemed that a pharmacie was on every corner, reminding me of the urgent medicine issue.  Did you know that the symbol of a green cross is an emblem for the pharmacy in France? The glistening cobblestones, washed clean by the rain, set the stage for my camera.  Restaurants and pastry shops were open.  Jim and I bought sandwiches and luscious pastries, but where would we eat them without the cold, damp ambiance at the street side tables? The answer to that question was a short walk down the street at a shop selling hot tea and coffee.  They sold sandwiches as well, so I felt guilty bringing the outside sandwiches into his shop.   The friendly young man welcomed us and was not bothered by my sandwiches since we were buying our drinks from him.  Wide shelf-like tables at the huge windows, and tall chairs presented the perfect place to linger in warmth and watch the street scene.  I had enjoyed most of my crunchy baguette sandwich and every morsel of my delicious pastry when I haphazardly reached for my tea.

Fully contented with my lunch in a day-dreaming mood, I clumsily knocked over the paper cup of tea which was only half-full.  How can a half-cup of tepid tea cover the table, floor, chairs and my shoes in a few seconds?  What a mess!!  I worked hurriedly with the paper napkins, hoping to clean everything before the shopkeeper noticed.  Finally, I had to ask for a cloth.  To my surprise, he was not bothered except that I had cleaned up instead of him.   We left Beaune for another day, not a Monday, with sun and an open tea shop.  Our next stop was Nuits St. George with more closed shops.  Mother’s Day in France (Fêtes des Mères) is held on a different date compared to the celebration in the U.S.  The big holiday was on May 27th, Sunday, the day before our Monday in the wet weather.  Most of the shop windows featured Bonne Fest Maman! 

Travel France online presents interesting information on Mother’s Day saying it is not a modern concept, but originated in Greek mythology.  The online magazine went on say:  “Ancient Greeks indeed celebrated Rhea, the mother of all gods and goddesses, during spring.  The Romans took over the celebration.  The cult of Cybele, the mother of all the Roman gods, survived until the 4th century AD.  However, the tradition then disappeared until 1806, when Napoleon I tried to implement an official date in order to celebrate motherhood.  That said, the project never materialized! … Fêtes des Mères became an official celebration in 1929, however, more or less fell into oblivion until 1941.  The celebration was very controversial at the time because it had been implemented by the Regime of Vichy.  Many women also thought that it was a sexist concept that denied them emancipation. Like any other French history subject this one is also long and complex.A petite lady statuette with a very generous derriere and bosom stood in a small pond with rain pouring from the edges of her umbrella.  She seemed to be the French version of the Morton salt girl who first appeared on the blue, round package in 1914. 

Jim had a mischievous grin on his face, but somehow he stayed quiet and didn’t utter a word probably remembering that he compared me to an African artifact the day previous, which now that I think about it was Mother’s Day!  We weren’t celebrating Greek, Roman, French or American holidays.  However, it seemed that every self-respecting mother in France was home with feet propped-up on Monday while I was up to my ankles in streams of cold, rain water.

It was Jim’s turn to be distressed.  The rain was heavier on this stretch of road as we went west with a road sign saying we were leaving Bouzy-les-Beaune

What a name!  We were not bouzy, that’s for sure.  More about funny names in France later, but for the moment Jim was not amused.   A massive truck was much too close, hugging the rear of our car.

His face was red and wrinkled into a frown reflected in the rear-view mirror when he said, “Dude, get your big-honking truck off the rear of my little Volvo, or I will report you to the MeToo truck organization!”  I thought, “Where did that come from?”  But I’m only a lady with a camera, what do I know?Driving home along the way we stopped in Bligny-sur-Ouche.  I know the town’s name sounds like something you would possibly expect a polite Frenchman to say when he stumped his toe, but Ouche is the name of the river.  The history of Bligny is ancient as you will notice from some of the dates on door lintels.  Since the twelfth century the village was protected by a regiment of archers, but they remained loyal to the Duke of Burgundy so the regiment was dissolved.  We were attracted to the pretty stream of water with white swans peacefully gliding on the mirror-like surface.  Yellow irises and colorful doorways caught my attention while Jim looked for fish in the lazy-moving waters.

The sun was still hiding when we made our last stop in a small hamlet with blue and white wildflowers in a field.  A gentleman wearing a blue shirt with white polka dots, identical to my favorite polka dot shirt, was walking two frisky, white poodles up the hill.  I followed in hot pursuit with my camera.All in all, it had been a beautiful Monday in the rain.

I had thought of a plan while I was in the front seat of the car watching the wet countryside swish its way past my window.  I would write a polite note to the pharmacist explaining my dwindling medicine supply.  Google translate could convert my English to French, and I would write the results on my note pad.

A few days of desperation later, I did just that and took the medicine bottle with me after I looked up the name of medicine in French.  The first lady at the counter said she couldn’t provide the medicine.  But then an older lady came to the counter, probably noticing the panic and distress in my face, and she directed the first lady to get the medicine.  Relief washed over me.  I could have kissed her!!

Would you believe that the package never was delivered and it was returned a few weeks after we were home in the U.S.!!

Y’all come back next time to go deep into the cave of Chateau de Chassagne Montrachet to see barrels of wine.  Thanks for coming around to visit.

You can read more about France, including more about Burgundy.  Just click over to purchase your copy of “A French Opportunity” in paperback or Kindle.  Please feel free to share this website with others.

All photography is the property of Debbie Ambrous.

4 thoughts on ““Monday in the Rain” – by Debbie Ambrous

    • Bill, thanks so much! I was hoping to find a special tea which is just wonderful. Would you believe that I finally found it in the airport?! I hope you are having a lovely day. All the best, Debbie

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