For most of the week, the topics here will be craft-related, but on Fridays, we’ll (see how I included you there?) have a little feature on France or French-themed things. Why France, you ask? Well, it’s a good thing you’re reading today then, because I’m about to tell you. It’s like instant gratification! And if you really want to get into the spirit of things, kick back with a pain au chocolat and play a little accordion music in the background. I’d recommend some good wine, but some of you might be underage. 😉
The summer before my sophomore year of high school, I was in a funk. We had moved to a new town just six months before, I didn’t have any friends and I had nothing to do. My mom decided that, if I was just going to hang around the house, I may as well get something out of it and handed me a copy of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I sat out in the backyard under the big shade tree and read. I wasn’t expecting much at first. The last time I had had a parent-initiated book assignment, I was underwhelmed (Sorry, Dad, I still don’t like The Red Badge of Courage). But this book was different. The swashbuckling appealed to my romantic imagination (yes, Dad, I know there were swords in the Civil War; it’s not the same), it opened up an entirely new world to me, and I learned lots of fun words like sacre bleu and carte blanche. And that, my friends, is the key. I had already taken three years of Spanish at this point in my education, plus, I had memorized the “Ape-English Glossary” in the back of my Dad’s boyhood Tarzan book (there, Dad, that was a winner!). The little light bulb blinked on and I realized: “I love learning languages!” So I signed up for Spanish and French in 10th grade.
Aside from a few funny moments at the beginning when I answered my French teacher in Spanish (not helped by the fact that I had Spanish class just before!), I was quickly picking up the new language. I continued taking both French and Spanish concurrently through high school and, by my senior year, it was obvious that French was the stronger of the two, so I chose it for my college major. My philosophy was, “Do what you’re good at.” And I was very good at it. (It’s ok, I’m allowed to brag a little: it’s my blog. Besides, very few people know this about me). There is a National French Contest for high schoolers called Le Grand Concours. The first year I took it, I placed second in the state. The next two years, I placed first in the state and was just a couple points shy (ie. perfection) of winning outright. When I got to college, I tested out of the first year and a half of classes. They had to invent classes in order for me to have enough credits to fulfill my major. I graduated magna cum laude.
And what did I do with all that fabulous French knowledge? Not a lot, at first. But a year and a half after I got married, an opportunity came up for my husband to pastor at an English-speaking church just outside of Paris, where we stayed for three years. It was just right for us — he got to speak English, and I got to speak French to my heart’s content and live in a country that I love. And not a day goes by that we don’t wish we could be back there!
I have plenty of stories from our time in France (and photos!), plus the semester I spent in Grenoble, and the week-long trip I took with my high school class to Paris. Plenty of things to share on French Fridays! In addition to my love of the language, the history, culture, architecture, and art all fascinate me and all play a role in my aesthetics. So even when I’m not directly talking about France, it’s likely that it has somehow influenced what I do. I hope you will enjoy hearing about my other home. And don’t worry: I got all the bragging out of my system this go ’round.