Summer is a-coming in, loudly sing cuckoo! Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew..
.All right, it's an English round, and not French, but it is after all the beginning of summer and what better way to announce it than has been done for the last seven centuries. If you've not heard this beautiful, historic round, check out Richard Thompson's version on 1000 Years of Popular Music.
In France, the summers are full of daylight, for long hours. It may not get dark until close to 11 pm, so there is more time to savor the meals, the good times with friends and that last bottle of wine. Our days may not be quite as long in most of the United States, but I still get a small thrill when I can walk in not quite darkness at 9 pm, or even later if I am up in Maine, visiting family on an island not far from the Canadian border.
What does this have to do with tablecloths and rose salt and French peppercorns and the price of bread? Well, because the days are longer, we can live a little more slowly and quietly in the summer. Turn off the television. It's time to recharge our spirits, our minds and our bodies. It's time to be with loved ones and cherish the simple pleasures of a meal outside, fireflies, cuddling children sleepy and rough from good play. Set your picnic table with a beautiful pattern, and then wipe it clean after the kids have had their hot dogs and brownies. Make the best salad ever, with good salt and fresh pepper. Play scrabble after dinner out on the picnic table, or get out your badminton rackets. Take out your watercolors and paint something, no matter your level of talent. Give the kids their own little set of paints and paper, and let them play too.
In other words, live in beauty. It's really not hard, and it's really not expensive. Quality will last a long time, and if you think about it in terms of dollars per year, it's a better value financially and esthetically in the long run to buy something you love - like a beautiful tablecloth - that you won't throw out at the end of the summer, but will cherish for the next decade or longer.
In the weeks to come, we'll be showing you easy ways to decorate graciously and imaginatively - and you won't need to be a Rockefeller or a Martha Stewart to do so! We may also have a recipe or two to share, and we'd love your comments too.
À la prochaine, Louise