Judith Mok was born in Bergen in the Netherlands and moved with her family to Menton on the French Cote d’Azur when she was eight years old. She now lives in Dublin. She has published 3 novels and 3 collections of poetry in Dutch as well as in English. Her new book of poetry Stains is due to appear next year. She travels the world working as a classical singer.
For more information about Judith Mok, visit: www.judithmok.com
Being with them this afternoon made me want to leave this country even more. Travel, not for work purposes the way I usually do but for leisure. I had a trip planned involving sea and sun but now, while I was telling loved-ones about our trips to France I wanted to go back there.
How often did I drive up the hill from Taulignan to les corps neuf in the late afternoon entre chien et loup, between dog and wolf as they say, and greeted the mountains and the wide open view with a smile, singing. Then down through the vineyards and apricot trees towards the farm with it’s turret from the thirteenth century. The children naked in the river, a couple of writers and artists friends dealing with the aperitif, the saucisson in slices on the board, strong mustard, caviar d’aubergine and wit, sometimes poems, on the tip of their tongues.
My skin warm from the sun, hardly any clothes on, my feet bare and free, I like to drive bare foot. But that’s not what I told them about this afternoon; it was about the driving down from Holland to Mediterranean Menton with my sister and my parents.
I would be accused of acute snobbisme if I mentioned my sister and I singing parts of the Magic Flute at the back of our Citroen 2cv. First we had a grey one then it turned red. Yes, we were small and we sang Mozart for fun until my father had had enough and we stopped along the road so he could smoke a cigar.
Then, at lunchtime, we drove around looking for the perfect spot to have our picnic. The tarpaulin was spread on the grass the napkins were out, cheeses and pates and fresh baguettes on plates and boards, butter in a glass and aluminum container, glasses for milk and juice. We had time, lots of time apparently.
Towards five o’clock we would look for a rural hotel, eat a large rural dinner and we would stroll around the village and join the local kids watching the train come in and then leave the station again; the event of the day.
We drove for four days while the mountains grew higher at the horizon and then around us, and our final hotel before our destination would serve vin de Muscat. My parents were merry, sang and drank, and I slept by an open window, breathing in the smells: thyme, lavender and the nearby sea.
My dream of La Mediterranee had become a reality once more.
Text in this post: © Judith Mok
Published with the permission of Judith Mok