July 30, 2013

La Comtesse de Ségur.

La Comtesse de Ségur is best known for Les Malheurs de Sophie, but Xavier garnished each night of our stay in Provence with a chapter from Mémoires d'un âne (1860) - the life of a donkey told from his own perspective...how he has both benevolent and evil owners, how he saves a little girl from a fire, comforts a chronically sick girl, finds toddler orphans on his path, encounters bands of thieves and recounts small moments of donkey glory - all set in the Second Empire of la belle France. All the little ones tucked under the sheets listening with cocked heads at times, asking about little-used French words deployed by the Comtesse, admiring Cadichon the donkey along the way. These are the moments I learn the most about the French, their language and our cultural differences. We Americans love a happy ending to every tale, whereas the French - even for their littlest beings - don't mind calamity punctuating the tale.

July 23, 2013

Colette in Provence: a series.

Petting village cats.


Taking in the lavender with her papa.

Roaming the cloisters of ancient abbeys.

Discussing with reluctant French cousins.

Learning the rules of pétanque.

July 22, 2013

Some of my favorite people.

While in Provence, Xavier felt inspired. He wanted to play farmer. So, he hopped on the tractor at the house in Eyragues and mowed a field or two next to the vines and the fruit trees, Marguerite saddling up for the fun. Equally spirited.

Cousin Louise, who followed Colette's lead and danced, mimed and paused in sync with Miss 15-month old.

I love my Louise and now that we live back in NYC, she is far too far away.

Ma Marie. Colette & Marie had a special bond. First, Marie and Colette look alike. I see Marie in Colette all the time and when they would trot along hand in hand it was totally apparent they were kin. It was sweet to see Colette next to her French cousins because she fit - she looks just like them - big brown eyes and chestnut hair. When we take her to the Johnsons, she is a lone wolf surrounded by her little blondie/blue eyed cousins.

Jules and Marguerite had a special connection this round. They played endless card games and connected in mourning over lost cicadas - very sweet last rites performed here.

July 20, 2013

More Provence.

Les Baux-de-Provence

Cheese. Chèvre cendré (ashed goat cheese).

Xavier and his dad.

Xavier and I really liked this one.

Marguerite enthusiastically inspecting cut lavender...


July 18, 2013

Carrières de Lumières in Baux-de-Provence.

One of the most interesting things in Provence is actually not highlighted by the sun: it takes place inside a quarry in the Carrières, a chain of hills called the Alpilles. It is a showcase of impressionist artists - and their take on the light that makes the Mediterranean such a compelling part of France. In the cave of this quarry, the paintings of Monet and Renoir, Signac and Cross, the Fauves, with Camoin, Derain, Vlaminck, Friesz, Manguin, Marquet, Chagall and Valtatare are all projected onto the surfaces of the vast scaling rock (ceiling above you, floors below and all other surfaces). The images swirl and move and overwhelm you as you stand there or move above, beneath in around them. Meanwhile, music by Ravel, Debussy, Gershwin gales through the space. Colette kept swooning, "wow" - eyes wide open, head tilted in all directions. We wandered through the endless quarry entranced.

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