I met a lovely lady in the village this week called Madeleine. She is 70 and has lived here for 32 years, but in the 7 years we have been here our paths had never crossed. This week she walked into the library whilst I was doing my one hour voluntary shift and we chatted, and it was a great feeling. I would describe my level of French as 'get by' French; I understand most of what is going on in most situations and I do appreciate that it is getting better all the time, but being able to just chat in a flowing conversation is still a bit of BIG thing for me, especially with someone new to me. I often find myself in a group keeping up with what is being said, but not really contributing too much unless a specific question is asked of me. Also contributing to the warm squishy feeling post-chat was that following 11 days in UK for Christmas I hadn't really got back into French brain mode - but it didn't matter, it just worked, automatically. I'm sure loads of you will know how good this feels!
Our new village library has been opened for a few months, but it has got off to a slow start. We have a population of about 350, but most people tend to keep themselves to themselves and it tends to be the same few faces you see taking part in the various things that go on. This has meant that up until this week my one hour a fortnight of library duty (we are a team of 6 volunteers) has been very quiet, and I have to admit to expecting another quiet stint this week too, when in walked the lovely Madeleine. She introduced herself and explained this was her first visit to the library (wow, the message must be getting out to the population). She very directly asked who I was as she didn't know me, then she wanted to know where I live. Although we do have road names and house numbers I have learnt that these mean very little to the older villagers, so I gave the family name of the previous residents and sure enough she knew them and the house well. The thing I love about talking to our neighbour Pierrette and the other older members of the village is they always have a story to tell and Madeleine was able to give me a bit more history of the family whose house we bought. Next came a real challenge as she wanted assistance in finding some books and she was rather specific with what she liked and didn't. Despite not having delved too deeply into the French section of the library (we have a great selection of English books too) I was able to help her choose 3 books and she even complemented me on my French. I do hope to see her again as a regular at the library and I do love how giving my time benefits me as much as those I am helping.
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