Perry, the son of my late partner Peter, arrived to our delight Thanksgiving morning. We hadn’t much warning that he’d be in New York; he flew in to do a job installing whatever it is he installs in buildings. But once we learned he’d be in the vicinity we made sure he would get to the farm for the ritual turkey meal, because after all he’s an important part of my family.
After about an hour here, Perry remarked at the pop music with French lyrics playing in the kitchen, which he found refreshing. “This is great. The only things you ever played before were NPR and all Dad’s Turkish folk music.” Slightly exaggerated, but fundamentally true. Life with Eric very much comes with its own sound track, one I have come to love. It very much has been a changing of the channel.
Changing of the channel is not just a figure of speech in this case. Among the dominant sounds in the house these days is the programming of Ici Musique, the Montréal based public radio station. Streaming the station is one of the ways that Eric stays tied to his home culture.
Although it plays plenty of popular music, the station treats all of its content as art worthy of respect. Some programs are curated by guest artists, or are organized to commemorate artists, eras or themes; they incorporate background commentary about the artists’ life events or earlier artists that influenced the work. It gives me insight into the seriousness with which the québécois treat their culture, and at the same time improves my French vocabulary and listening skills. It is particularly easy for me to listen to since I can turn to Eric, as I probably do a dozen times a day, and get the low-down on a word I don’t really understand.
Last Saturday night we saw the Montréal singer / songwriter Coeur de Pirate in New York City. On the drive back up Sunday morning, we heard an interview on Ici Musique in which someone kept using the word I heard as “plat”, which turns out is spelled “plate” but pronounced “platte”. “Do they mean just ‘flat'”? I asked Eric, “like ‘calm’ or ‘flat seas'”?
He said the sense would be more like “boring” or “uninteresting”. “C’est plate” might be a bad review for a play or a party. He said the French would almost never use such an expression, that it was a very québécois usage.
As with all additions to one’s vocabulary, it is best absorbed if it can be applied immediately to life repeatedly. As it turned out, “plate” was definitely my vocabulary word of the week
That evening, we both came down with chills. And while we both seemed to recover somewhat by the following morning, late Monday I was seized with more intense chills alternating with sweats, low grade fevers and debilitating headaches and joint pain that confined me to bed for most of the rest of the week. A negative COVID test brought me no comfort. I was reminded for the first time in a long time of what it is to feel really sick. To lack desire or appetite, and not be able to imagine having it ever again. To have one’s greatest desire be comfort, and yet to derive little from being comforted. To feel that everything you say is off base or unable to connect with reality. To only want to crawl under a rock.
I was relatively immobile and inactive, with Eric blessedly taking on himself the entire burden of buying feed, doing chores, and cooking. But there was nothing Zen or calm about my flatness. The boredom, feeling tired of the absence of interest, was almost excruciating. If someone were to ask how I feel, I thought “plate” would be an appropriate term.
This morning I awoke feeling largely recovered. It was the first time this week I had sense of energy. It was the first time I was able to do the chores as they should be done, not to get by with just the minimum tasks necessary to avert disasters. I was able to feel the sun’s rays as a source of energy, and to see the calm joy of the animals as they, too absorbed those rays. Theirs was a quiet pleasure, in which I felt I was sharing. It was calm, but not “plate”. Vocabulary lesson learned.
WHAT’S AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:
Just a few things. Eggs are in hiatus until these new girls get a bit bigger. The old girls are producing just a couple a day.
Lamb is sold out but I’m preparing to send 5 or 6 more off to market. If you want to order a whole or half lamb cut to your specifications at $7/lb hanging weight, please let me know.
Daikon radish, $2/bunch
Salad turnips, $2/bunch
Fresh horseradish root: $4/lb.
Email us your order at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know when you’d like to pick up your order. It will be put out for you on the side screened porch of the farmhouse (110 Lasher Ave., Germantown) in a bag. You can leave cash or a check in the now famous pineapple on the porch table. Because I’m now here full time, we’re abandoning regular pick-up times. Let us know when you want your order any day between 10 and 5, and unless there are unusual circumstances we’ll be able to ready it to your convenience. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or text at 917-544-6464 or email.