Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Two tail ends to my day: a quick good bye in French and a greeting in Russian.

I have to say that nothing challenges and excites and depresses me more than having the opportunity to use a different language in the course of a very normal day. Let’s focus on the depressing elements of this: I am always worse than I think I ought to be.

But wait, my day started at the market. Nothing complicated about that. I try to decide between garlic.



Ed is with me so we go with the cheapest per bulb (the German).

That is the easy hour. So long as your day’s challenge is in deciding between Georgian and German garlic, you have nothing to complain about.

Then the day gets tricky. Teaching. Yes, of course, Lots of it. After, I pedal madly up hills and across excessively busy intersections for an appointment on the far far west side of town.

And now things become complicated in a pleasant sort of way. At 5:30, my obligations are behind me and the rest of the day is completely open.

I bike to La Baguette (ca va? Oui, ca va bien. – that was easy…) where a loaf of wonderful bread is waiting for me.


And soon after, I bike home. Or almost home. I choose a circuitous route. Past the Sheboygan Community Gardens. I waver. Tired, hungry, I want my home. (There are exactly 45 pounds of tomatoes waiting for me. Ed and I had gone overboard at the market.)

But I throw the bike down and go up the hill, because the sun is setting and I hear a language I hadn’t heard in a long time.

And there is a family, tending to the remains of a summer garden.


I recognize one person instantly: she used to sell bagels at Bagels Forever. I knew then that she was Russian. A very long time ago I had asked about her. They said she had a son, same age as my daughters…

I listen now, watch, inquire with my eyes if I can take photos, they (there are four of them, older, and still older) nod yes.


And then I leave. hesitating, but just for a moment. With (now, switch to Russian please) a comment about how beautiful the colors were.

Are you Russian?
No, but close. Polish. I sort of understand your language.
Yes… Polish. Polska…

And that is it.
Very lovely colors. Good bye.

And I think – I really love languages. And people who speak them well, naturally, from day one.