We just got back from a trip to Southwest France to visit Jacky, my wife’s ailing 82-year-old grand cousin. She’s a very sweet lady who slaps your face when she is happy with you, lives in the tiny village of Buziet in a 1840s farmhouse built by her great-grandfather, and speaks only French at a rate of about 200 kilometers per hour. The kids loved the fall farm rituals: the green pastures and stone walls, the roosters crowing in the morning, the contented clucking of hens pecking the grass, the bereted Bearn shepherds with their flocks of dusty sheep rolling down from the Pyrenees mountains like giant balls of frayed yarn heading for safer winter pasture, the bats darting out of the dusty, bow-timbered grange, and the clang-clang sound of hollow brass cowbells bumping through the narrow village streets announcing the evening bovine beauty pageant.
Inspired by the bucolic surroundings, the kindness of the people, and the antioxidant-rich liquefied red-grape drink that the French seem to enjoy with every meal except breakfast, I started speaking French-never even took a lesson. One evening as Jacky pushed away from the table; I wanted to tell her good night. I cleared my throat to get the French pronunciation right and proceeded to wish her a happy new year. She paused, turned, and smiled quizzically. For the rest of the trip, she (and my wife’s entire extended French family) was culturally sensitive to my traditions as they too wished each other and me goodnight (bonne nuit) with a smile, a kiss, and a wish for a Happy New Year (bonne annee). Who says the French don’t have a sense of humor.
Fall in the Northern Hemisphere is changing the warm and bright summer light into a cooler dusky-ember orange. For those in the fruit world, these next few weeks feel a bit like no-mans-land between summer and fall. We’ll continue to offer kiwi-berries and passion fruit and pomegranates whenever they are available. Generally, however, the transition from summer fruit with its abundance of peaches, nectarines, and the like is a harsh seasonal reality check. There are still some late-season pluots and grapes, but you will start seeing more pears and apple varieties as they come to harvest. We make a great effort to post up all of the fruit varieties we have for you on the website so that you can identify what you are eating.