May 30, 2018

Roaring Red

Provence poppies are as extraordinary as another other flower phenomenon - lavender, jasmine fields, roses. May is peak. Each year the peak fields change. It is all wild - just self seeded explosion of crimson. I stopped breathlessly near the rows of vineyards where the poppies had grown thick between each one. Stripes of green and red.

At the end of the day the fields swell with sensuality, velveteen waves. I stood in this one to watch the line of poppies in the distance swallow the sun.

May 8, 2018

An adventure to Sardinia

“I’m going to sleep on a boat!” Romy and Colette told everyone they could in the weeks leading up to Sardinia. Eyes wide, breathing deeply in anticipation. Hard to imagine such an occurrence. Then the day came and we all pulled up to the port in Toulon with a similar feeling of anticipation for our week in Sardinia.

We were looking for a new place, for beaches, time under the sun and the moon, a bit of wildness (even more than we have at home) and all of this all together. We drove our car onto the giant cruise liner that ferries people from the southern coast of France to Corsica and Sardinia. We chose the overnight option because the passage is 10 hours and at least some of that could be spent sleeping (fingers crossed).

Once aboard, we climbed up the narrow stairs and up and again each floor until we found the 7th floor of the boat, where our cabins were located. The girls burst into the room and began shrieking. Two bunk beds, ladders, a big window looking out onto the sea, small lights on each bed, a tiny bathroom with a shower. They couldn’t believe their luck. It was like a sleepover and one of the invitees was the boat itself. Paranoid that Romy would escape the cabin, walk through the halls looking for us, see door after door, floor after floor looking exactly the same, Xavier ended up sleeping in their cabin with one eye open the whole night.

Alghero, Sardinia

We started our time in Sardinia in Alghero, on the northeastern side of the island. A charming old village with tame and beautiful beaches all within 15 kilometers. Our goal was to try a new beach every day. Spiaggia delle Bombarde. Spiaggia di Mugoni. The waters were clear and turquoise, just as we had imagined. We were very lucky and had perfect sun and 80 degrees (28 degrees celsius). Sandcastles and beach flowers, naked little girls feeling the thrill of sunny freedom, space, handstands, and for me - proper swims (at least 30 minutes each go in the water). Lunch on the beach wearing bare sandy feet and towels around our bathing suits.

'I Spy' in Alghero

At night we headed back to the apartment we were renting and when Romy was too restless for the space, I took her out into the streets where we walked and played I spy. I spy pink socks hanging on lines above the alleyway, I spy creeping jasmine up the gold-toned wall, I spy a granny sitting in her windowsill peeping out at us, I spy a stray cat ambling along the cobblestones, I spy the rainbow-tiled roof of a church, I spy dazzling light around the corner, I spy the sea. She would begin each round by saying, “I spy with my little pie” (her understanding of the game). I spy a summer child.


Mid-week we headed toward Bosa and went to a tiny little alcove along the shore called Cala Managu. It happened to be a national holiday and it was the only day when we found ourselves with many others at the beach. (Off-season was a great choice for Sardinia. I have the feeling that in July or August we would have had a very different trip).

In usual fashion, I asked Xavier if he could keep an eye on the girls and went exploring. I hobbled over spiky rocks and around the corner to find what felt like another planet. Green and pink limestone rock faces. Strange rock formations. The same turquoise water but up against new color. I turned another corner after exploring for a while and found another planet entirely. I felt so small. It was a wonderful feeling.

I came back and the girls had found a green-blue starfish and were building relics with shells and seaweed in the sand around it. They had a handful of conical shells in their hands and they suddenly came alive. They were inhabited. Crawly legs and claws emerged, antennae with eyeballs. Hermit crabs. Then the relics shifted from being dedicated to a mystical realm to being transformed into a habitat for these newfound friends.


We covered a lot of ground. We traversed the island to go from Alghero to Bosa to Santa Maria Navarrese, which was really off the beaten track. A few hours in the car. We stopped for gas and Xavier bought a pack of bubble gum. It was a brilliant move. An hour later, the three girls were still filling the car with laughter at each bubble blown and burst. The only trick was (and we weren’t aware of the situation until later), Romy kept dropping her giant gob of gum in between the seats. Marguerite would give her a stern look, but hand her another piece to keep the momentum going; she had giant bubbles to blow. We found the wad. Xavier wasn’t thrilled and then it was the end of the bubble gum magic.

Gennargentu National Park

Our favorite day was when we rented our own little boat. Xavier was captain, with all the girls taking turns helping to steer. We had traversed the whole island to come to Santa Maria Navarrese and the Gennargentu National Park found along the sea cliffs to the north of the little village.

Out in the sea, the limestone cliffs loomed high above us and only made way for the occasional pristine beach or sandy patch along the way. There were caves too. Stalagmites dripping into the jewel-toned water. Just remarkable landscape. We pulled up to various little spots and had a picnic and built sandcastles and scampered along the shoreline rocks and tide pools and swam.

When it was Romy’s turn to captain the boat with her papa, she nestled in and turned the wheel this way and that. The waves hummed and bounced us all in a rhythmic refrain. I looked back and saw Romy’s little head bobbing up and down with them, her eyes slowly lowering as she “drove.” We all laughed and lay her down on the mattress at the front of the boat, where she slept for a full hour, head tossed and turned by the rocking of the boat. The whole time she had her hands around a piece of rope. Her lips lingered in the shape of the little whistle she had insisted keeping in her mouth from the minute she put on her left vest. Marguerite had told her seriously, “If you fall into the water, you just keep blowing on your whistle and someone will save you.” She grew very attached. At the end of the day, when we approached the little harbor, she looked at me with a bit of panic and said, “does this mean I have to give back the whistle?”

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