A bird in the hand
Whenever France beckons, out comes my notebook. Some travellers collect teaspoons but I gather vignettes, those fleeting, funny, often poignant episodes that evoke the joie de vivre that I love about the French.
While in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, an enchanting village in Provence known for its Fete des Violettes (violet festival) every February, we were having morning coffee with new friends, an American couple. As we savoured the fragrant coffee and croissants, we began to be aware of a frisson emanating from inside the patisserie. A small, agitated crowd began to gather and voices were raised.
Curiosity getting the better of us, we went in to investigate. Just as we did, the source of the trouble whizzed over our heads and, avoiding Madame’s frantic arm-waving, landed firmly in the centre of an exquisite display of pastel macarons — le pigeon! Feeling as if I had stepped into a Jacques Tati movie, I watched entranced as the good ma- trons of Tourrettes clucked and gave increasingly strident suggestions for the removal of the bird. Ooh la la.
They had not reckoned on their visitor from the US. Without a word, our friend slipped out of the crowd and with the grace of a dancer, grasped the bird firmly with both hands. However, in his haste, he had wrapped both arms around the uprights of the display cabinet and was now locked in place. There was a sharp intake of breath as the audience realised what had happened. What would Monsieur do? If he let go of the bird all would be lost, but he could not remain fixed to the cabinet forever.
I don’t know how he did it but, suddenly, the bird was under one arm and our friend was heading for the door. With a flash of pink and grey, le pigeon was free. Applause broke out and above the din could be heard many a “Bravo! Bravo!” as the swiftness and quick thinking of the foreign monsieur was discussed.
The crowd dispersed, we went back to our coffee and peace descended once more on the square. As we congratulated the rescuer, I drew out my notebook and thought ... only in France.