Tuesday, June 22, 2010

life imitates art

We bought the book, Katie Meets the Impressionists, at the museum shop the first time we visited the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. In the book, Katie, in search of some flowers to give to her grandmother travels in and out of several classic impressionist paintings, including this one, from Renoir.

Having read the book so many times, even adding our own fragrantly irreverent twists to it, and having seen the original poppy paintings at the museum, made it extra fun to finally stumble across the magical sight of a real live field brimming with real live poppies.

When I found out that the French word for poppies was coquelicot, pronounced, coke-uh-lee-koh, I repeated it over and over, like a child. What a perfect word for a perfectly flirty flower. They call to you like bold coquettes, but their beauty fades in an instant when you try to make them yours.

As much as I urged the kids not to bother picking them, because, so attached to their birthplace are they, poppies do not live for more than half an hour when plucked from their turf, both Esther and Isla got back into the car clutching magnificent flashing-red bouquets in their fists.

I can relate to the poppies tendency to sag and wilt when taken away from all that they have ever known as home. I have been feeling a bit wilty, a bit saggy, lately. Even when looking upon the most perfect pastoral scenes, hillside orchards, swaying oaks, green meadows filled with black and white cows, I still can't help smelling the air of foreignness that hangs heavy, like a flooded tent roof, over everything. Still.

And I wonder if I might just weep upon crossing the instantly -recognizable border into Vermont from Massachusetts when we go home, for a visit, in August. And after weeping, I wonder if I again may grow plump and bright, alert, like a poppy, magically returned to her soil. And I wonder if it will be hard, or easy, for me to return to France after having dipped my toes, and my naked body, once again, into the icy, fresh- mountain streams, and breathed in the sultry air, smelled that third cut of freshly- mown hay, and slapped my first mosquito of the summer.

I wonder and I wait.

And, of course, I keep submitting posts over here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Running to stand still

We spent half an hour running in and out of these stumps on the sprawling lawn of the Chateau Ste. Fargeau. I could have done it for an hour. Running comes so naturally to children. Why do we stop running everywhere we go when we become adults? I'll admit, I sometimes employ the child's method of mobility, running from place to place, from downstairs to up, sprinting from the kitchen to the bathroom, or from the yard into the house. It feels good, but I know I couldn't keep it up if anyone were watching me. Why is running only appropriate for little people?

And what about skipping. I once dared my brother, the only person in our family with the kind of job you have to wear a tie for, to skip back to work in our busy little town after his lunch break. He was tempted, but in the end, he chickened out.

Esther is a good runner. When we race I have a hard time staying in front. Letting her win is not even a consideration. I just have to concentrate on not letting her dust me.

These people aren't going anywhere. Why would they?

My favorite room of this house. The fact that we do not have a couch, or a single comfortable chair-- the kind with a high back that takes a load off your entire body, not just your feet-- makes my bed the only option for relaxing. When I pull those windows open and lie down, my worries float out and the world floats in. It's a peaceful world. I hear bits of gossip from the birds. And sometimes I hear them flirting or teasing each other. And the trees read the sky for me. Their soft swaying trunks and all those leaves, which dance and flutter in the warm breeze, tell me a more encouraging story than those that rattled, and shivered in the biting winter wind.

When the wind blows across the barley, making it ripple and roll, it is no longer earth, but sea.

If it weren't for horses. These fuzzy wuzzy creatures have helped Esther, immensely, to adapt to this foreign culture. They don't care what language she speaks,they trust her and she trusts them. The confidence that she has gained in herself by caring for, sitting atop at a walk, trot and gallop, and even steering these beautiful horses over jumps is impossible to measure. It's hers and hers alone. As scary as it is, I love watching her jump. I love how she gets temporarily off center when her horse leaves the ground, and then, instinctually, shifts her weight, keeps her eyes ahead, and rights herself. All by herself. Under her own power. I can't do it for her. And that is what makes it so wonderful.

It was Mother's Day in France a few weekends back. (La Fete des Meres). Esther and Ian and Isla picked me these roses from a bush that grows up our front stoop. They were breathtaking and powerfully fragrant. They came with a hand-drawn card from Esther with a picture of a mama sea turtle with a baby sea turtle on her back. I'll scan it soon and put it up here.

Isla loves cruising the streets of Vermenton while Esther is at art class. She goes so fast now I have to run full speed to keep up with her. A trike session with Isla is like an extreme sport. We are so ready to ditch the training wheels.


if you will,

an entire building

filled with old bones.

Isla heading up to the fossil floor at the Natural History Museum in Paris. (Muséum nationale d'Histoire naturelle) in the Jardin des Plantes.

Sorbet citron....

Glace at the Café Rodin. It's important to make a meal out of ice cream when it costs more than $10.

Esther went wild with my camera in the Musée Rodin. This shot above is a super close up of the lovers (The Kiss) you saw a few shots back. I like the way she got the sun sneaking through the gap between their sucking faces.
"I like Rodin because he is like me," she said. "He uses a lot of detail in his art."

And there is nothing more rewarding than exposing Esther to fine art. She is so appreciative, so mature in her examination of every piece. So grownup in her comments: "I love the way that woman's face is so true." It's impossible not to be inspired and wonder how any human being can become bored, or complacent, in a world that is so filled with beauty and passion.

More stuff to read over here, and here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I just found this in my journal. I don't remember writing it, though it was dated just one month ago:

I walk and I walk and I walk and I walk.

I try to walk away.

It's not possible.

I’m always here.

Still here, still here, still here.




I can't forget who I am.

For a minute.

Mommy Mommy Mommy

And I can't forget my stomach,

pushing so defiantly against my waist band.

And how it once was:


always leaving space--

never straining.

Never hanging loose.

Oh God, no.

So I walk I walk I walk I walk.



Resisting the urge to stay put.

A good wife, with my thumb in the hole,

catching the leaves of our messy life

that just keep dropping, and dropping.

They never stop


An ode to vanity, perhaps? But I'm thinking that, having been an athlete for so many years, my body may be the one thing in my life I have felt I had any control over. You think pregnancy would have set me straight there. Hah. And now, it seems, I'm getting a good talking to. I'm not listening-- fingers in ears, lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!