I am very pleased today to share a guest post from one of our readers, Debbie Ambrous. I met Debbie through this blog, and she has has just published a book called A French Opportunity, about her voyage from small-town Alabama to her beloved France. Here is Debbie's story:
I admit that I am infatuated with France. My friends say I must have French bloodlines, with the shadow of castle towers in my background and a previous pathway of ancient cobblestones.
South Alabama blood flows slowly in my veins, with the shadow of the giant Opp, Alabama water tower looming in my past, not castle towers or the Eiffel Tower! My pathway was strewn with sawdust from Daddy’s cabinet shop, not centuries-old stones in a historic lane. I love it all just the same! While Daddy’s saws were buzzing and whirling my imagination was soaring to foreign, exotic, enticing parts of the world. My feet touched many of those places, but the one that seems most like a second home to me is France.
I try to add a petite dab of French mystique with a bit of French accent on the Ambrous name since it isn’t spelled as the typical, ordinary Ambrose. When I hear, “Where ya’ll from?” I find myself saying with a tilt upward of my nose, “My husband’s family is from France.” Husband Jim’s accent leaves no doubt that any French nobility or serfs in his bloodline were conceived many years ago. He throws cold water on my castles in the air image when he blurts out, “We’re from Opp, Alabama, but she fell on her head when we crossed the Seine in Paris, and she hasn’t been the same since.”
In my book, A French Opportunity, Jim and I stay in a beautiful farmhouse in the Loire valley at Brehemont.This wonderful home with owners from Alabama was our starter house in France. How fortunate we were!
We travel further south to Burgundy, Dordogne and the Lot. We are continually drawn to the warmth of the farmhouses at La Prairie.
Luxurious Chateau hotels are a decadent treat occasionally so I can improve my mystique and shake some of the sawdust from my Alabama feet, but it’s the surprises along the way that we enjoy most of all. The following is an excerpt from the book about a trip to a Langeais, France market:
If we had lingered much longer (at breakfast), we would have missed the market. I didn’t know that it started so early. The parking lot next to the market had some extra excitement. A chicken was loose and three people were chasing it from car to car. It would hide behind the wheel of a Peugeot and just as they started to grab it, it would shoot out the other side squawking its cry of freedom and chicken dancing across the pavement to the flower hedges. I was laughing so hard that Jim said I sounded like a cackling hen on the loose too. The chicken rustlers finally got the hen without my help, although I wanted to join the roundup. I thought I could put that on my list of lifetime achievements. When the chicken was back in its coop the lady vendor stood next to me and laughingly said something in French. I don’t speak French but I believe it went something like this, “Back on the farm, that hen wouldn’t walk to the other side of the barn to see the Brad Pitt of the rooster kingdom, but when we took her out of the coop, she flew out of there like a feather duster on speed. Go figure! If I had known that I had to chase a crazy chicken in the parking lot, I would have stayed home and introduced that hen’s neck to the Marie Antoinette treatment.”
Jim wouldn’t let me buy a live chicken. Instead, I bought green beans, tomatoes, eggs, raspberries and pretty purple and yellow pansies to plant in the garden. How could I ignore the photo opportunities? A large red-faced man with a few teeth missing was animatedly selling huge heads of cauliflower that were heaped on the bed of a small blue truck. Then we had the Victoria Secret market. Girdles hung on display with extra heavy-duty brassieres, probably like the ones my Grandmother wore. Now, don’t expect me to wear those under my simple housedress if I ever live my country home dream!
In the COMMENTS: Our last post, "French Confections of the Lustful Kind", made Julie gain weight just reading it. Suzanne, why DON'T French women get fat, with all these goodies? (I did try to explain it in this previous post, but I'm still working it out). The photos made Hampton head out for salted caramel ice cream, but Hampton, at least you rode your bike! Thanks as always for all the nice comments.