Although it's been a couple of years, I can still cobble together a sentence or two in French; a basic order in a Paris cafe, loose translations of a song chorus, or even a scratched out sentence of passé compose on a good day. Most of the time, I just recite some of the rhymes we were taught in primary school to learn vocabulary, singing about grapefruits and plates and going skateboarding. Either way, I like to think that speaking a little bit of French gives me a certain sophistication.
But when letters arrive from Abbey? I get a change to dance around my kitchen screaming, "Par avion! Par avion!" Across oceans in bilingual Canada, the postage comes in both French and English, and it makes me ridiculously happy to see one of those letters, with a few French words, a bright sticker, and Abbey's familiar handwriting.
When I came home on Friday, one such parcel greeted me. It looked a bit like a potato, and inside was a pot of loose leaf tea that smelt like Christmas and reminded me of the feeling you get when the central heating hits you when you walk in after subzero temperatures.
I'd never made loose-leaf tea before, but somehow -- perhaps because tea is in my veins and my family tree, or maybe some French/Canadian charm rubbed off on me, or it could just be that it's not as hard as I built it up to be -- I managed to make a pot of it without too much disaster.
Since then, I've been drinking it pretty much non-stop. I'm getting a little bit more adept and coordinated, managing to handle the sieve that I'm currently using in lieu of a tea strainer, and enjoying the taste more every time.
My French still leaves a lot to be desired though.