Wednesday, April 01, 2015

from Paris to the farmette

From Paris

A morning in motion.  But for once, my return flight from Paris to Detroit (pronounced deh-trwah)  isn't at the crack of dawn. This means that I have time for a morning walk in the city. And I have a destination in mind -- the food shop at the Bon Marche department store, where I saw a jar of thyme honey.

An odd choice? Well it's like this: Odile in Marseille (who, like me, is a great fan of honey) had reminisced how her mother always told her to eat thyme honey to calm her inner soul. She bemoaned the fact that thyme honey seems to have disappeared off the shelves of stores.

But I saw it yesterday! I did not buy it because I had not yet decided to send my suitcase through (honey would not be permitted in a carry on). At the last minute I concluded there's no reason not to send it through on a return leg of the trip  and so now I could add the honey. It's not French, it's Spanish and I don't really think that it will necessarily accomplish the miraculous act of calming a soul, but I like the old world stories of foods and souls and I love honey on my morning oatmeal, so off I go to get my honey.

On a Tuesday morning, Paris is on the move! (You'll see this in all the photos: they are hurried, taken of motion and in motion.) I seem to hit the hour of taking your young child to school. I have two comments on this:

First, I see the appearance of helmets more often, but it's still not common here.

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Second, what is common is the doudou (a child's skinny stuffed toy, serving as a love object) and the French tolerate a child holding on to his or her doudou beyond the time we normally would.

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And they tolerate the use of pacifier beyond the baby stages. Here's a girl with both pacifier and her doudou.

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It's a curious thing, this idea that we restrict something in one place and permit it in another, only to restrict other behaviors. I think if Snowdrop went to kindergarten with a doudou in her hand and a pacifier in her mouth, people would talk. At the same time, if a child in France brought her lunch to school to avoid the one offered by the school itself, people would talk, probably with not a small amount of criticism.

People talk. Waiting for my plane at the Paris airport, I find myself reading this article in the Paris Review about gossip. Do you engage in it? Is there any one who does not? Isn't Ocean a form of gossip -- about the world I encounter, which includes snapshots of people doing things? Perhaps it's not negative gossip, but as the author of the article speculates, isn't every good story just a retelling of gossip?

To continue my walk... Children going to school, adults on bicycles -- everyone on the move!

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I pick up my honey...

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...and then I, too, begin to pick up speed. At the hotel, I do eat my breakfast -- it will be a while before I see this much bread on my plate again!

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...and then I say my good byes and walk up by the Luxembourg Gardens -- where I see both motion and a stillness (even as there is now the faintest sign of occasional drizzle... not so much as to cause you to use an umbrella... if you had one... which I don't).

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... and I think about this idea that if you are still, you engage in deeper thought than when you are in the move (but is this true? is it?)...

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(on the train to the airport: lost in thought)

Well, I have a lot of stillness now as I sit waiting for my flight (oh! these are making one final appearance!)...

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...and then sit again, waiting for my plane to take off for Deh-trwah.

In Flight

The flight to Deh-trwah (I just repeat what Madam the flight captain says on the loudspeaker) would have been uneventful except that I got lucky and so it was better than uneventful. As it was a very full flight, I asked for a free upgrade at the gate. You can do that on Air France if you are their frequent flyer and you have some enormous number of earned miles in your bank and if you are of a certain fare category.  Madame looked at my record and noted that I was of no fare category, as I didn't even pay for my ticket (I'm using miles for it). Sorry, not this time -- she tells me. And she really seems sorry.

So I am surprised that when I do board, I am in fact given a seat in Air France's middle class -- an odd combination of comfort (large seats, lots of leg room) and economy (same food as the sardines which are usually my companions).

I bask in the wonderfulness of this gift.

And finally, I am in Detroit and then I am in Madison and Ed is there waiting for me and in an unusually warm evening of the last day of March, one that would even put the south of France to shame, we drive up to the beloved farmhouse.

From the Farmette 

The first thing to notice on a still very warm early morning - the morning after my arrival - is that the crocuses are blooming!


We're in the middle of a warm spell and there's plenty of sunshine! Breakfast -- oh, I missed this meal in the past weeks! My oatmeal is improved by a drizzle of thyme honey...


After? Oh, I have a long check list, but right on top, there is our annual planting of the tomato seeds. Here we go!



(while the plump cheepers look on, happy as anything to keep an eye on our outdoor work)


And then there is Snowdrop.

Her mom brings her to the farmhouse and the littlest one is at first tentative. I can see her puzzlement: familiar, yes, it seems familiar... She displays her most serious expression. And she shows me how she can grab now...


Just to make sure you understand, grandma: I can do it!


...and from there it's all smiles and giggles for the rest of the afternoon.


... not just giggles -- whole cackles of laughter now!


I cannot believe how in 2.5 weeks this girl has grown! (In size as well, though she still seems tiny if ever you position her next to big Ed...)


The day is so brilliant, so warm and solidly hopeful! My girl and I take Snowdrop for a long long walk. (Yes, that sun hat is from St. Ives...)


I think -- two an a half weeks... Such a short period of time! But when you go away, that perception changes. As I listen to Snowdrop babble for the first time -- real goos and gaas -- I think surely this girl has jumped to an entirely new playing field.

Sometimes it take a grandchild to remind you how much you can accomplish in a very short period of time.

Ah, but it's great to be home again.


  1. Welcome back home! And you even brought spring with you to your part of the continent. Lucky! I don't expect us to have crocuses here for at least a week or two.

    I love the Thinker statue with the primroses, and Snowdrop's sun hat.

  2. So nice to see Snowdrop again. I do believe her hair grew, too, in the 2.5 weeks since we saw her last. The sun hat is very sweet and looks lovely on her!

  3. Welcome home! Snowdrop's growth is fantastic, cementing all the progress I saw two weeks ago when grasping and chattering were just getting started. That "figuring things out" look really means something!

    No fair that you have crocuses in full bloom in Madison... here in Buffalo, it's just the tips poking up! And my snowdrop patch is buried under a big snowpile by the side porch. Did they bloom under the snow? Maybe.

    1. Ah, Buffalo... The snow state.
      Snowdrop surely thrived under your care! I can tell!

  4. We're traveling too, somewhere where it is abundantly, fragrantly SPRING! but I always like to grab a moment of down time to say good morning to you, Nina!

    You look delighted and refreshed back at home! Ed looks like a giant dandelion gone to seed ;) but what a welcome sight. Precious S has lots of fun stored up for you!

    1. Yes, the dandelion analogy is so apt!
      Are you in the south?

  5. " Ed looks like a giant dandelion gone to seed..." I love this! I was trying to think of a way to say the same thing! Ed needs barber-Nina!

    Good to have you back.

    "Deh-trwah?" really? And they laugh at Americans for failing to pronounce French words properly?

    I am so jealous of your sprouting flowers! We have a foot of snow on the outside lawn area still. Hrmph!

  6. Welcome back, Nina. I'm just back too from several days at a glorious quilting seminar. I'm starting with now and going backward to review your posts from abroad, as I'm sure I missed one or two in my scarce hours with internet.

  7. Hi Nina,

    Welcome home! Love the happy, yellow Crocuses honoring your return. Nice to see little Snow Drop and how happy she is. I can not look at a happy baby and not smile. It is such a wonderful feeling.

    You jumped right into gardening. I put the hummingbird feeders up this morning. My next step is a very basic patio garden that does not require a lot of light. Gardening gets into your blood.

    I need a new doudou. I think it is very nice that the French let their children grow at their own rate. Why not?

    Gossip, I am not free of it. I do try to make it non hurtful. We all talk about each other or at least most do. I have to think more on gossip. Maybe there are levels of gossip.

    I Googled Thyme honey. It is pricey bit readily available. There are also very easy recipes to make it...just so you know. I intend on making it. I have made herbal vinegars but never thought to make herbal honey. I love honey and drink it every day mixed with water (which I can not stand because I can taste all the unsavories in it) and vinegar. Now before you think "Oh, ugh" let me tell you if you get the right amount of honey/vinegar/H20 it is very good, healthy and nourishing.

    Tah Dah!

    1. The real thyme honey is honey that comes predominantly from the thyme flower. And, yes I do know about the health benefits of your combination, but to me, honey is so enjoyable in it's pure form that I savor every last taste. It's like wine -- with unique flavors and punchiness to it. I just really love it in its natural form!


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