On of the best things about all this walking is discovering wonderful little shops like this one:
We popped in here the other day to find a gift for our friends, Jacky and Pascale, to thank them for their great kindness last year. One of the gentlemen inside the shop helped us and we ended the exchange with the traditional, “Merci. Au revoir!” and left. Since “revoir” means to see again, people will often add the specifics of exactly when they expect to meet again, like “à demain” (see you tomorrow) or “à dimanche” (see you Sunday), but you only add that part if you are actually expecting to see someone at the specific time or day mentioned, so unless you’re a very regular customer, au revoir is usually all you hear and say when leaving a shop.
While making our purchase, I had admired a bottle bag with handy dividers, but left without buying it, then remembered all the bottles we’re constantly toting, changed my mind, and turned around and went back immediately. The vendeur was a bit surprised to see us back so soon, but of course sold me what I wanted and even told me the French for it–sac compartimenté, since I know you’re wondering–then concluded the transaction with the traditional “Au revoir” but this time added “À tout à l’heure!” (See you in a few minutes!) What a comedian. Made us laugh, though.
Shopping takes on a whole new feeling when you’re living sans voiture. Anything you decide you can’t live without must be fetched on foot from some distance, and everything you buy must be schlepped home. Beverage consumption has to be choreographed so you don’t run out of milk, juice, wine, vodka, etc. all on the same day. The water’s safe to drink, of course, but doesn’t taste fabulous, so we also buy bottles of drinking water.
On the plus side, we’re getting lots of exercise, seeing lots of gorgeous flowers along the way:
And there’s a posh new shopping bag in the house this year from the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, with a reproduction of Jan van Eyck’s The Madonna with Canon van der Paele (click link to find a better visual and the art history lesson). I’m sure the original is stunning: vibrant and colorful and unusual–since it depicts a vision–but I didn’t get it at all at first. I thought it was some sort of time-warp version of the classic adoration of the magi theme, with a priest in full jeweled splendor, a knight in armor, and some balding white guy (the canon) instead of the magi. Despite my ignorance, it classes up the schlepping considerably. I call it “Baby Jesus Goes Shopping.”
I don’t know if our nearest neighbor speaks English, but if so, she may have been surprised the other day to hear me call back to David in the house, “Don’t forget Baby Jesus!”