⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

September 28, 2014

Central Park Sailboat Pond.



Such a dreamy place. Colette had been talking about boats for a week. We were going to find a boat to row in Central Park, but these were just her size.







September 24, 2014

More Colette.



It might be the most comical age. She takes up so much space – in all the best ways. She is forcing smiles all over the place, even when she is nowhere to be seen…the capricious moments keep floating to the top of my mind long after they are gone. Some amusing Colette lines of late:

(While wearing the above, self-chosen gear – and no, biking was not on the agenda, nor was it raining): “Come here little fellas,” she beckoned with her hand to ask Xavier, Romy and me to follow her somewhere.

While trying on some new sneakers: “I’m bigger, just like a boy!” (proclaimed with total delight)

While reading a cowboy story: “The cows and the horses are galloping. I really like this book, mama.” (Studying it intently)

While sitting on the counter cooking with papa: Xavier instructs, “ne touche à rien” (don't touch anything)
Colette: “OK Papa, I am not touche-ing a rien”

Out of the blue, looks at me incredulously: “Are you kidding, mama?”

Romy’s new full name: Romy Danda Boonza
(Romy responds to Danda more than Romy at this point)

On the swing, flying high, booming, low-pitched voice: “Let it go! Let it go! I CANNOT hold it back anymore” (this girl doesn’t use contractions)

“Wait, wait mama – you bouge pas” (don't move)

Colette: “Where is my lady?” (repeatedly with increasing distress)
Me: “What lady, Colette?”
Colette: “That lady – my pink lady!”
(Turns out she was talking about a cheap Barbie doll figurine from McDonalds – high title for such a lass)

On a webcam with my brother Paul: “Colette, where does Bindia live”
Colette: “Brooklyn”

Bindia is on her mind a lot (and ours too, now that we have sort of fallen in love with this imaginary friend. Bindia made it to France, thank goodness – Colette spotted her in the parking lot of Paris CDG airport):
“Bindia is up there bricolaging with her papa,” pointing up to some trees
“Bindia’s mama is green”
"Bindia's mama is 49"

We heard Colette singing Twinkle Twinkle in the monitor to herself in bed (or so we thought). She got to the end of the song and said, "Just 2 times, Bindia, OK?" and then recommenced.

I do have some fears for Colette. She has particularities that point to specific genes in my family. OCD:
- She can’t wear shoes with laces – the loop specifications and direction of the leftover laces are just too intense to handle
- Before she can swoosh down any slide – a very rhythmic three foot bangs must lead the way. Every time
- Blanket alignment can take up to 5 full minutes before bedtime
I won’t go on

September 19, 2014

L'église du Vieil Baugé.



There is Baugé and there is Vieil Baugé. The newer one has a château that dates to the 15th century, so I guess Vieil Baugé must be really old. My niece, Louise, and I went for a walk and found the old church with the twisted steeple and, for the first time, went inside. The walls were frosted with coats of time. The place felt heavy. It was really beautiful.







The walk there was also memorable. The sky was bursting while Louise and I walked along talking about her new adventure of lycée (high school), intense French exams and the problem of superficiality in high school kids. She is a French teenager, much wiser and more articulate than her age. We stopped to notice climbing vines and small châteaux and the sky.









September 15, 2014

Château du Lude.



Next was Château du Lude, just down the road a bit from Baugé. The thing I liked most about visiting this place was Colette's stance, above. It is one of my favorite things about her generally. Aplomb 100%. Little body taking up lots of space.



We also loved soaking in our French family - Jules, the calm, wise, attentive cousin Colette and Romy both adore.






This lady has some serious locks. She was perfect in this setting.


Château labyrinth...out of hedges


Sister walks in a great setting.


Piles. Colette is obsessed with creating piles. Spare dust anywhere is magically ordered into a Colette-hill.






The inside of the château was photo-forbidden, but I stole a couple of the best views. That staircase and entry were really something else.

September 11, 2014

Villandry.



While we were in France, we visited several châteaux. Baugé (a town situated in the heart of La Vallée de la Loire) is boxed in on every side by these royal abodes and we could simply hop in the car, point our finger in one direction or the other and wind up in front of a castle. This one, Villandry, was all garden. Shockingly garden. These Frenchies. My dad took us to this château when we were young and while I appreciated the points, lines, angles of the plants, I didn't really take it all in. This time it popped.

(As you probably know, accents are important in French. I wasn't going to include the circumflex in château here but Xavier encouraged me to do so. He said, "Please! Pronounce chateau and then pronounce château! Such a difference" Honestly, I had a good laugh - the difference was inaudible but very real to him).






Colette, as you can see, was very thoughtful about the beauty around her. She sat down and put on a good, sober French face.




A good place for a chat.


Or for tasting some sweet grapes.




A chat between sisters and swans.




This is where the French are truly classy. Their restraint. One might accuse these gardens of bragging. Flamboyances. Exhibitionism. But alas, here - the court intérieure of Villandry is bald, divested of glitter. Just one large urn and those tiles. Contrasts so nicely with the rest.


"Cam I see mama?" (Please do note the little crossed fingers).





September 4, 2014

Belle-Île.



We took a ferry from Quiberon, France to get to Belle-Île. Bindia and her mom made it on the same boat, Colette was glad to report.





Once we arrived, we biked everywhere. That was the beautiful plan. And it was beautiful and a lot of biking and the only snag was the rain that began falling when we got off the ferry. Our house was 15km from the port. Raining cats and dogs with little Romy kangaroo in a pouch on my front (Colette got lucky in a pull-behind wagon - nice and dry). Our pace was slow and Romy was wet, but we made it. And then the weather blessed our efforts with perfect behavior the rest of the time we were on the island.


Marguerite: city-gal, flew on the bike. I would overhear her and Jules shouting out numbers: "5"! as we would climb or descend hills. Gear recommendations along the way.


Many of the beaches on Belle Ile are found by coursing down a long descent - at the base of rocky cliffs.




Houses on the island were charming and looked like sisters.




Romy was officially the nicest traveling companion. This was a rare moment of pause - she generally was fed her bottle and took all naps in movement.




This walk made me cry. We walked from Le Grand Phare to the water and the trail was something from Wuthering Heights.








Colors! Color pop reminded me of this.


I rarely wish my babies were somewhere else. When I saw this perilous staircase, however, I wanted to be alone in the world. The opening to it had been barricaded, but I would have found a way to scamper down and find its fulfillment.


Romy and I perched on the lip of the cliff in awe. Her little face reflected the wonder.







I originally was interested in going to Belle Île because of an article I read about places where Monet painted. Belle Île was one place where he worked on a series of paintings of the Aiguilles de Coton (a series of huge, elegant, but almost tortured rock configurations off the coast of one side of the island) - the light, the shoreline, etc. It looked unreal and astonishing. It was.




Colette got tired.


Cousin Jules (whom Colette absolutely worshiped) came to the rescue. (She would wake up in the morning, sit up and ask, "Where is Jules?")


Hydrangeas swarmed the island.




Grand-père teaching Jules to skip stones. We all combed the beach for the perfect skipping rocks and watched them draw a dotted line across the water.


The finish line! After some serious biking for those who don't bike every day, pulling back into the port town (Le Palais) was gratifying.



A true portrayal of the state of things in the rain:


But, of course, Colette for entertainment in all conditions:
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