I've now been in France all of three weeks, well a couple of days over. Practically a resident. The weather has warmed up and everything is in bloom. Still, this is a bit early for the tourist season in the Dordogne. Until last week, I carried my umbrella on my walks into the village and even with sunnier days it takes forever for heat to penetrate the stone walls of Le Pigeonierre--my picturesquely named, but not very warm abode. I shiver as I write. I'm a tourist, let's face it. I look like a tourist, I sound like a tourist, I take bad pictures like a tourist.
Tackling the laundry recently made feel a bit less of a tourist though. In the kitchen of Le Pigeonnier there is a small under-the-counter fridge and an equally small washing machine. I thought perhaps it also dried the clothes but I was directed to the clothes line in the courtyard. I dumped in a load-- small-- of clothes, poured a little detergent over the top and then had the bright idea of checking the dials on the front of the machine. All in French, naturellement. 'Depart' (accent over the e) seemed like a good place to start, so I pressed that button. The machine filled, clothes swished around and I made lunch –mushrooms sauteed on the burner above the machine. The pan on the stove got a bit agitated, pretty much in synch with the clothes agitating as they went though their spin cycle below. I ate lunch–mushrooms, salad, a glass of wine–on the terrace.
After a while, I realized that the machine was still going, and going and going. Water filled, emptied, clothes spun and sloshed in a seemingly endless cycle. I punched the button marked 'Arret' (stop. Accent over the e. Note to myself, get a French keyboard) The machine didn’t arret though. More sloshing and spinning. Probably an hour had gone by. I ran over to the neighbor who used to live in the Pigeonniere. English and very nice. She said she’d never really understood how the machine worked, but just pressed #7 'Rapide.' I went back and pressed 'Rapide.' Nothing. Or rather just more sloshing and washing.
I had another look at the dial. What was this word 'Essorage? ' I went to Google translate. Spin dry. Eureka . . . voila perhaps. I pressed 'Essorage,' 45 minutes later the clothes were still essoraging. I opened the door. I don’t know how to say dripping wet in French, but that’s what they were. Whatever they’d been doing in there, they definitely weren’t essoraging. I carried them out to the terrace where the sun was shining and tried to ignore the ominous dark cloud on the horizon. Soon the grape arbor was festooned with my knickers, the table where I'd eaten lunch and the back of the chairs were draped with jeans and shirts. Before long, the sun went behind the clouds and the heavens opened up.
Twenty four hours later, knickers draped over bannisters, bathroom fixtures, electric heater going full blast. Must say though that I felt ever so slightly less like a tourist.
Update. I've mastered the machine. I'm so much less of a tourist than I was way back then . . . until I try to speak in the Super U that is.