How our neighbours sneaked slowly into our hearts
So, what exactly is it that fascinates us so much about the southern French and Catalan way of life? It’s hard to put it into words. But I will try anyhow and I’ll just let the regional experts speak.
I have written down a few freely translated quotes that we have heard from our neighbors in recent years.
Maybe you know this feeling too: On some days you will like to find a good excuse to not to do what you were planning or supposed to.
Where we typically struggle to find a serious and good reason, the southern French pursue a much more pragmatic approach:
“I can’t work today because……it’s too windy.”
…there’s no wind.”
…it’s too dry.”
…it’s to cold.”
…it’s too hot.”
…I’ve got a hang over.”
At the beginning we laughed when hearing such excuses, but meanwhile a deep understanding of this kind of justification grown and we even find ourselves excusing us the same way.
“You can leave all the tools outside when you’re gone. The only thing stolen here is alcohol!”
“It’s raining through your roof, but that’s normal! [this is the case for everyone here].”
Sure, placing a bucket underneath the leak causes a lot less work than uncovering and covering the whole roof to fix it.
“Shit, I again forgot to bring the saw. Come on, let’s leave the oak tree where it is and just build the hut around it.”
In addition, it is socially acceptable to overwork neither in youth nor in old age. It sounds something like this:
“He is lazy. Yes, he is still young!“
“Me, I don’t work anymore. I smoke!”
The nice thing is that neither youth nor older are firmly defined. You may regard life simply as a smooth transition between these two stages.
As you may see from the large number of quotes: the topic of work-avoidance is very popular. But the aspects of leisure and eating are also worth a look:
The answer to the question which sports you are doing:
“I dont’ do any sports. I only do hammock.”
The answer to our question how the public picknick will be organized:
“We won’t be preparing anything fancy for the picknick tomorrow. Everyone just brings a little something along. Nothing special. Some will bring oysters and others maybe foie gras with fruit bread or just a bottle of Champaign.”
Our neighbour answering the phone call of the notary:
“No, we can be at appointment early. We need at least two more hours…we haven’t had dessert yet.”
The answer to the puzzled looks on our faces how we would get to the date with the notary:
“A bottle of wine for lunch and driving a car. That works just fine in winter!”
Even if I cannot back up all points of my conclusion with quotes – some beautiful quotes have sure disappeared in the fog of time – I see exactly these four aspects as the core of what magically draws me to the region.
- Don’t work too much
- Live and let live
- Good food and drinks are integral parts of the day
- The siesta is sacred