From a sleepy little village in the mountains, where the épicerie closes just in time for lunch, Ste Croix aux Mines has been transformed by quilters. Just like anywhere in the world, quilters bring their shopping bags, cameras and walking shoes and take over. They trudge from venue to venue, piling on the buses and excitedly talking “quilt” to everyone they meet. The merchants are busy, the quilting vendors mobbed, and the exhibitions crammed. There are 20,000 people who attend this show, we’re told.
Day one of our shows went well. In the morning we had about 35 people. I think not many of them spoke English, because where there are normally laughs, there was dead silence. I did my introductions faithfully in French, and they seemed to understand. Nobody left, thankfully, and they were very kind. I spoke with three women from Switzerland before the show.
The afternoon was very different. We had at least 80 people, very close to full, and after my second introduction, a woman in the second row put up her hand and said: “We’re Dutch and we don’t understand French. Could you introduce in English too?” But of course! It means some of my very long stories are much longer, so I’m thinking I won’t be singing the Rajah quilt very much. But I’m learning ways to keep everyone engaged. They love the story and song about “Sweaters for Penguins”. Everybody gets to shout “Hurray” 3 times in the song, and that’s good. At the end of the show, the Dutch woman asked for “Why Don’t You Have Plain White?” – she had seen me sing it on YouTube!
I am totally surprised that there are people who know about me over here, since it’s the first time we’ve sung here. Between YouTube, our friend Véro who has been selling our CDs here, and various appearances in the UK, we have some firm friends here. When we went to visit Véro at her booth in the vendors’ mall, three women from Spain got very excited to see me – they have all my CDs and are huge fans!! I think they’ll be at the show this afternoon.
I’m relaxing and really enjoying myself. Yes, it’s tiring still to be working in a second language, and John and I collapse into bed each night, exhausted. But it’s going very well. I wish we could have brought some more books with us – we just sold the last one. From now on, we’ll have to send them from home. There was no way to bring more along (too heavy), and no time to ship them, since I just got them a few days before we flew over. Ah well – we’ll have lots for Houston now!