Acorns and aliens: lunch with Vernon and the Ukrainians

Catriona and I were late for lunch at Vernon’s because I couldn’t get out of bed. The four of them — Vernon and the three Ukrainians — were sitting outside drinking in the sun when we walked up the path. The Ukrainians are renting Vernon’s other house. Nina is married to Andrij. Valentyna is Nina’s friend from their college days. They had been talking about me. ‘Talk of the wolf,’ said Valentyna. ‘That is what we say in Ukraine when we talk about someone and they come,’ she explained. ‘Quand on parle du loup,’ said Vernon, who is French-American, ‘on en voit la queue. That’s what we French say. When