1st strawberriesWhat do the French do on a long weekend? They go to the countryside! Easter Monday is a national holiday, because although the Revolution established France as a diligently secular country, folks weren’t so foolish as to relinquish days off.

bunnies
Easter bunnies? On sale at the market.
P1090834
Not a bad view.

On a back road that rivaled any pot-holed, rutted safari track, cars with not-local plates passed nonstop under a brilliant spring sun. More cars were parked under trees, their passengers scattered in the brush–a taste of wilderness without having to walk too far.

asparagus far
It’s obvious, right?

They were after asparagus, mostly. The thing to eat on Easter Monday is an omelette, preferably with asparagus, preferably wild asparagus. You need better eyesight than mine to spot it–fine green stems against more green. “It’s not the same green!” my friends explain. But I have gone asparagus-ing and even when it was right in front of my face I didn’t see it. However, I got plenty scratched up. Now I get my wild asparagus at the market or from generous friends.

asparagus med
Look closer! That’s an asparagus plant. No delectables on this one…somebody had already passed.

People of all ages were tramping through the brush–the touffes, or tufts, are called la matte in local Occitan lexicon. Somehow, la matte sums up the state of the inpenetrable tangle. That didn’t stop people from trying. I saw a dad coaching a little girl, who was wiggling like a commando through a little opening to get to asparagus gold.

It takes a long time to get even a handful.

There are other wild things along the way, and I’m not talking about parents. The flowers! Wild orchids:

Wild irises:

A very decorative plant whose name I was told but forgot, and whose fruit grows not off the stem but off the leaf:

red berry
Can you see that the berry is attached to the leaf? The little star-shaped flower on the other leaf will turn into a berry.

This little flower is called un petit souci–a little worry. I wonder whether a bunch of petits soucis becomes a big worry.

People here say all the time, “Petit enfant, petits soucis. Grand enfant, grands soucis”–small children, small worries. Big children, big worries.

Sigh. Happily ours is sans souci at the moment. Knock on wood.

Speaking of big, the pinecone on the left was bigger than my fist. It also was very sticky with sap, so it didn’t come home with me.

While we swoon over the views again, let’s discuss the title of this post. It’s from a podcast by Esther Perel, who is a revelation. Her podcast records her therapy sessions with couples. Wow. Even if you aren’t dealing with the issues discussed, you can’t help but learn. Learn to listen. Learn to get past what people say and understand what they mean.P1090810P1090825In an episode titled “Leaving Shame Behind,” Perel counseled a couple dealing with the aftermath of crises–a brain tumor, a car crash and the husband having a near-fatal heart attack that left him mostly disabled for a long time. The wife had to do everything–what Perel called “overfunctioning.” Isn’t that just the perfect word? Are you overfunctioning?

P1090827P1090829She said many wise things, but one that really hit me was: “Apology is not weak. The one who apologizes first is the stronger one.”

 

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27 thoughts on “Overfunctional

  1. That was interesting. I love how the French have the history and tradition of foraging during the different seasons, also having the correct basket for said pursuit.
    I was born in the wrong country….sigh.
    Ali x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and it is far more gorgeous in person. My little point-and-shoot camera can’t do it justice, not to mention that I’ve dropped so many times there are specks when I zoom.

      Like

  2. Oh well, yes, I have a very overfunctional streak, I try to keep it under control! Your plant with the red berries is called Ruscus, I think that’s the botanical first name, and its nice to look at, but ….. very prickly, and it has the most tenacious and deep roots you can imagine, with nodules that will regenerate if you don’t get them out. Its favorite trick is when birds eat the berries, and then “release” the seeds while sitting in a tree or large shrub. Et voila, you have ruscus entwined with your preferred plant! There is also an asparagus family plant that looks very much like edible wild asparagus, but it is not. Its very thorny and vines through everything, and is not edible. I don’t know if its poisonous, I don’t think so, but novice foragers should look carefully at photos of both. Now let me tell you about mushrooms ……
    bonnie in provence

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  3. Lovely photos and text.
    No way I could go foraging living in the city. But I do remember when we were kids and lived in the countryside. After the rain we went looking for mushrooms. And there were blackberry trees. We would stand on our horses and eat them right from the tree.

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  4. I’m with you on the ‘wild’ asparagus. It takes so long to get a meals worth, and even then half of it is bitter or stringy as hell. Buy it from the man at the market, so much more efficient.

    The red berried plant is Ruscus aculeatus, Butchers-broom in English, Fragon faux houx in French. The ‘leaves’ are in fact modified flattened stems. It’s a rare and protected plant (rare in the sense that it is picky about where it grows and is in decline).

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      1. Wild leeks, of course, we have them here in provence too. In my garden in fact. I’ve been calling them wild onions. An elderly man friend of mine in the Herault always gathers them to use for cooking.
        bonnie

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