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5 Days, No Phone

Suggested Song: Garden Party, Ricky Nelson Suggested Drink: Strawberry basil margaritas: strawberries, lime, basil, tequila

A new spring edition of Bill’s fabulous adventures in Provence. It is easy to write about this time of the year, with the eager return to longer days, changes in the local farmers markets, and the resumption of warm weather rituals that most often center around drinks and socializing.

I’ll start, though, with an epiphany of sorts: smart phone addiction is little different than other forms of unhealthy dependence, and the loss of its tickle in our pockets leads many of us through the same series of withdrawal emotions.

I suffered through 5 days sans connection recently. My iPhone went missing after a Saturday night of pronounced revelry at the restaurant Les Agapes in Aix. There was eating, there was drinking, there was singing and dancing, and my socket to the wireless ether vanished mysteriously through a wormhole of midnight excess. These things can happen when we’re having serious fun.

As the next day was a Sunday and the day after that had me on an early morning train to Paris, there was no time for quick replacement, so I resigned myself for a few days of unconnected disquietude. This I experienced:

  1. Day 1, Sunday: denial, anger, depression, acceptance (that my phone was indeed gone, dammit)

  2. Day 2, Monday: comprising, coping (through another day – this one traveling – without constant connectivity)

  3. Day 3, Tuesday: observing, realizing (all the ways my smart phone distracts, demands attention, and eats up my precious life minutes)

  4. Day 4, Wednesday: embracing, flourishing (the minutes and hours freed from uninterrupted connectivity and distraction)

  5. Day 5, Thursday: denial, anger, depression, acceptance (that my new phone had arrived)

For a final word on this topic I defer to Prince Ea’s compelling recent video: Can we auto-correct humanity?

Artist: Jennifer Pochinski

Artist: Jennifer Pochinski

Back to the warming weather, we took advantage of longer daytime hours this past weekend to throw a casual dinner party in a friend’s garden. Spring training for the competitive season that will be in full swing by May. Creating an Aix-Mex menu from the spring vegetables in the local markets was challenging great fun, and with the aid of said friend’s massive grill we offered up fajitas of slow-roasted skirt steak (onglet to my local French butcher) and melt-in-your-mouth beef tongue, peppery gambas marinated in Italian lime and cilantro, papas con chorizo with spicy Spanish sausage, and an amazing Provençal inspired pico de gallo with local tomatoes (just starting to find their flavor now), green onions, and roasted chili peppers. Homemade cornbread and a just-from-the-oven chocolate cake filled out the menu. Yee haw.

All in there were 27 of us – half kids – enjoying this spring fling; no phones sitting on the table or gripped instinctively in needy hands. Just great conversation and catching up after the dark days of winter. Another bottle please. Life is short, the world is beautiful. Unplug, connect.

Bill Magill Aix-en-Provence

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