La Resistance – This is not France, this is Haute Savoie.
Life here is different and there is no need to wake up early, but yet I still do. Why or in French, pour quoi?
The realization…My husband wakes up with the sun, about 5am. He is a modern day fruit farmer in a region known for the apples and pears.
He can tell you the type of tree by a glance as we drive by, or by the smell of the leaf. He knows all the varieties of fruit that are known to man.
When we walk around the orchards, he explains tree processes to me and picks a piece of fruit from the tree.
It may sound simple, but for me it’s magical.
Marc is extraordinary in so many ways.
I come from a world where I could effortlessly navigate 3 mobile devices while running in heels and eating breakfast. I know about people, business, media, digital marketing, communications and creativity. I create solutions, strategy and forecast what will sell and how it must be positioned but have no idea how many varieties of pears exist or why the high altitude makes fruit special.
With generations and generations of Savoyardism, it’s no wonder a mountain is named after them.
They are Savoyard first and French second – and they will proudly tell you that their history is not French, but French Savoie, Division 74 & 73. It is a beautiful and chilly combination of endurance and loyalty.
Most people who move here, to the French Alps, do not 1) move from NYC OR 2) move into a farming family that dates back before America was ever discovered.
I had spent time in France prior to meeting my husband and enjoyed the countryside. And contrary to the “rude” French stereotypes, I am happy to say I have never had a bad experience in Paris, St. Malo, Loire, Cannes, or any other place I had visited in France.
However, when I moved here, I was ill prepared for the ‘not so’ welcoming reception I received. I soon realized that I did not move to France, I moved to Haute Savoie. I didn’t marry a French man, I married a Savoyard.
And despite my desperate attempt to try to understand the language, when attending dinners in the countryside, I couldn’t make out a sentence. I was embarrassed, empty, felt shutout and dumb. I tried to reassure myself that in a matter of time I would start understanding conversations and wouldn’t have to ask my husband for translations over and over again.
Was it the dialect? Was it the pronunciation? Was it the fast paced sentences? I couldn’t tell where one word ended and another began.
Was it the past, future, simple, future perfect, passé compose, imparfait verbs? Were they eating their words? Was there too much wine at dinner? Nope.
It was Patois.
Patois-Savoyard is the regional dialect is spoken in Savoy (departments seventy-three and seventy-four). This dialect is included in the European Charter for Minority Languages.
Perhaps Patois was a way to hold onto their region. After all, the French Alps were the last division to become French and were split into 3 with Italy and Switzerland claiming the other 2 parts.
Suddenly, the French graffiti on rocks and trees in the area scrawling “France Get Out” and “Free Savoie” began to make sense.
My curiosity led me to learn more about the region and slowly I started to understand that the “coldness” was a misinterpretation.
It wasn’t until the snow covered mountains became “chic” that anyone ever ventured here for a holiday vacation.
I also realized that my favorite mushroom picking spot is “the place le resistance.” During WWII, the people of the region not only fought but also WON against the Nazi’s. Hence, le resistance.
“The History of Liberty is the History of Resistance,” said Woodrow Wilson.
These local Savoyards fought bravely, courageously and their toughness was incredibly admirable. My own grandfather was in the American Marine Corps in WWII and I am grateful to have heard stories from him from the time he served (1940 – 1945).
With this new found understanding, I not only was able to more easily accept people but also greatly respected the lineage.
In the words of Dr. Steve Marabeli, “Do not be discouraged by resistance, be nourished by it.”