We made it there and back again: all five of us across the ocean to beloved France, to visit Paris, Bordeaux, and then Aunt Zane and Uncle Gerard in the beautiful Dordogne Valley. What a journey. 15 years ago, Jeffrey and I were together here. I had just finished a study aboard program and he came to meet me in Southwest France. To return to this part of the world with our three children was a tremendous gift.
It was wonderful to travel all together as a family, but Paris was not easy with Wallace. I knew that Parisians are stereotypically impatient with loud, active children, but on the first day we had a couple of incidents that were particularly humbling. I speak French but Wallace doesn’t! We got “the look” more than once. Gratefully, the girls were a huge help, and we all tried to be extra attentive to Wallace and negotiate his melt downs. I hope the girls remember our walk along the Seine, Jeffrey’s commentary on the remarkable architecture, and traveling down magical narrow streets — as well as they remember coaching Wallace through it all!
On our second night in Paris, we explored le Passage de Grand Cerf, found dinner “a emporter,” and then I put a very tired little man to sleep while Jeffrey took the girls up into the Eiffel Tower to see the city all at night. I opened the windows in our sweet little apartment on Rue de Caire and let in the Paris night noises: fragments of French, dogs barking, mopeds. . . I sat on the old wooden floor and wrote, letting myself linger in poetry inspired by a Parisian Passage.
We are saying goodbye to the garden for the next two weeks. I love this time of year so much, and it is hard to leave, knowing that these nasturtiums will likely not be standing tall when we return.
They’ve given us their spicy sweet all summer long. Wandering around the garden, I gather one last bouquet and inhale deeply before we adventure off across the Atlantic Ocean.
Amie is teaching me how to do blackout poetry. We are both working with a page, copied from The Secret Garden, and creating different poems from the same text. The idea is to “black out” the words or word fragments you don’t want to use and then create a poem with the shape of what’s left. Have you ever done this before? I didn’t know about the world of Blackout Poetry until Amie showed me a google search of so many examples out there, both visually and word wise. Creating poetry from existing words on a page is such a different way to spend time with literature. I’m finding it fascinating. I could spend hours doing this sort of creative work if Wallace wasn’t dismantling the entire house behind me . . . doing his own version of blackout housework, I suppose!
The colors seem especially brilliant this year with all the rain and overcast skies.
More so than any season, in October I feel I’m like going out into a new landscape every morning.
I find that I want to spend as much time as I can outside, even in the rain.
I want to tell you about reaching up
into the apple tree
to pick a wild apple,
when a shower came down from the leaves
and a drop fell on the corner of my right eye
and rolled down my face —
a single tear.