Need a Friend? Try the laundromat!

Last Saturday was laundry day. After so long at the hotel, we were desperately in need of some clothes washing. We had found a lavaterie automatique in Tournefeuille, so early in the morning we bagged up a couple of loads and headed over. The system is a little different, with a control panel for all the machines, including the one from which you buy deteregent. As Stoney and I were sorting through the French instructions, an older woman sitting, waiting for her own laundry, popped up and offered to help, in perfectly serviceable English. What a precious and enthusiastic guide she turned out to be!

I am calling this a God-appointment, though, as this friendly, bubbly woman of Dutch descent was delighted at the prospect of practicing her English, which is her least-used of her three pretty fluent languages. She insisted we come that afternoon for tea with her and her husband, a Frenchman who speaks only French and Dutch, so that we could have a little opportunity to practice our tiny store of French. She even had Stoney walk home with her to make sure we could find it, being new to the community and all.

Frankly, all afternoon as we banged furniture together, it seemed hard to believe someone we had met at the laundromat really wanted and expected us to show up in a few hours. It almost had that “axe-murderer-you-met-online” feel, you know? Except, not. But we grabbed a little bouquet of mini-carnations at the fluer-ist and arrived with offering in hand. My new-found friend was waiting at the corner to welcome us warmly, I think a little concerned that we would not find her. Her husband was so gracious as well, and they ushered us into their gate and a sheltered place in their garden, where a table had been placed, with chairs, and place settings for us all. She served us coffee actually, and tea for my tea-loving son (who loved the sugar cubes!), and orange juice as well. She offered little English cookies and chocolate cookies for Theo, and apricots, which I now suspect may have been from her own garden.

After tea she showed us around her garden, which out back included a full-blown actual Garden, with vegetables and fruit trees and a grape vine. It was amazing how much they fit into a compact spot. They insisted it was not pretty, though, because they hadn’t had rain in weeks. Still, they managed to send us off with a half-dozen really delicious tomatoes. They were an incredibly charming couple. We would like to return the hospitality and invite them to a friendly game of boules with some homemade lemonade. I hope they accept!

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