Tuesday, September 10, 2013

French Dirt

I am feeling very lucky.  I have connected with another author of a book set in France.  Through Jo Maeder, I found Richard Goodman's blog, A Geezer's Journal.  I left a comment on Geezer and then Richard left a comment on my last Sabbatical entry.  I am already acquainted with Richard through his book French Dirt.  I read it a few years ago and loved it.  After I pitched my book last summer to editors from Algonquin and to the Book Doctors, one of them asked me if I had read French Dirt.  I was thrilled just to have my writing mentioned in the same breath as Richard's.

Another photo of a garden in southwest France, taken in June 2008, at the beginning of my sabbatical, while with the Arles 6...

Read the beginning to Richard's story (then read the whole book) --

Bon appétit, les jardins en France, great books and new friends!

(photo from amazon.com)

French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France

From Chapter One, “Inspiration”

I had a garden in the south of France. It wasn’t a big garden. Or a sumptuous one. Or a successful one, even, in the end. But that didn’t matter. It was my garden, and I worked it hard and lovingly for the few months I had it—or it had me. This little piece of tan, clayey, French earth, nine meters by thirteen meters (thirty feet by forty-three feet), was in fact the first garden I ever had. It taught me a great deal about myself. “Your garden will reveal yourself,” writes the wise gardener Henry Mitchell. It did. It taught me that I am generous, impatient, hard-working, sentimental, boyish, stubborn and lazy.

Having a garden also connected me to France in a way more profound and more lasting than any other way I can possibly think of. Part of me is still there. And always will be. Even though my friend Jules Favier has recently written to me from the village that “only one of the four boundaries of your garden remains standing,” I’m not upset. What does that matter? The garden is in my heart. Having a garden gave me a place to go in my village every day, a task to perform and a responsibility. You cannot ask more of a land in which you are a stranger. To feel the French earth, clear it, plant seeds in it, despair over it and, ultimately, to take from it, that was a precious gift.


Lesley Powell said...

Great post. I am inspired to read "French Dirt" now!

Richard Goodman said...

I never saw this, Sab. So nice of you. Can you tell me more about your book? What is it? Did it get accepted? Where is it at this point? Yr. pal, Geez

The Sabbatical Chef said...

Bonjour Geez-- I am afraid I talk about my book more than I write. Even after pitching it. How on earth did you find the time to write yours? I have to figure that out. I am writing about my 2008 sabbatical in Arles working with a chef in his B&B and cooking lessons for mainly English speakers. Me as translator, fetcher of ladles and dishwasher par excellence. And what I left behind while doing it. One day... I would love some pointers. Jo M. was great to meet and chat with a few months back. I am so glad to have met her.