Wednesday, May 31, 2017


(The prologue to this post is rather long. If you're not in a reflective mood, do move straight to the photos!)

So often, the end of a trip is very final. The minute you let yourself into your home, you are in your groove again and though you retain your fond memories (or un-fond, if it was a trip from hell), they come and go. It's as if your attention is always on the present and the future. Past events -- well, they're in the past. True, you may be a changed person, but you don't think about that much. You think about what you need to do to get through the next day and the day after.

Yet this trip -- the family trip to Paris -- was somehow different. Maybe it's because the apartment was so small that we were always sharing the same space -- there were no escapes! You really have to like your family (and I do really like my family) to engage in this kind of travel.

But this would not cause me to think back so much about a trip. For that -- I blame Snowdrop. Being with her, and especially being with her alone for so long really stirred me up a bit -- both before the trip (wondering about how it would all play out) and now after.

My daughter, who is the quintessential busy young mom, is a pretty tired person these days. I am always marveling how taxed young families are, until I remember that I was that way too way back when. In fact, when my older daughter was just a few months older than Snowdrop, I was pregnant with my younger one, attending law school, moving to our first ever house, and planning a three month trip to England where her dad had work to do for the summer. So I vaguely remember having ten things going in my life, all at the same time. But now, in Paris, I really wanted to help my girl and so I took on the project of keeping Snowdrop busy so that my daughter could rest.

All this to say that I spent a lot of time thinking about families and little kids and of course, about Snowdrop's reactions to things she experienced in Paris.

When you're a grandparent, it's not a do-over: you don't get to play the parent again (thank goodness!!). But you have this fantastic opportunity not only to be the helpful grandparent, but to see in real time parenting done in new ways, though always with a touch of the old, because your kids are going to pass on some of your habits, whether deliberately or inadvertently. It's a fascinating thing and I got a front row seat these last ten days.

And I'm still thinking about it. Because this is the beautiful thing about being older: you get a perspective: your own, as matched against a newer, fresher one.

Then of course, there was the Snowdrop in Paris part. How she experienced being in France, how she took to this very different world, full of the chaos of a big city and one that functions very differently than what she is used to -- this was just thrilling to witness and I've been thinking a lot about it since.

But too, I am happy to be home. When Snowdrop and I stepped out of the airport (her parents had taken a cab home, because we could not all fit in one car with all our luggage), into the cool night air and Ed came towards us, I understood how much I do lean on him and how suddenly even carrying the little girl felt very light indeed. (And though it was after 10 p.m., which would have been 5 a.m. by her Paris clock, Snowdrop chatted away happily, informing him that his beard looked very white and his hair looked white too, and oh, isn't that the moon, and yes, she rode a pony in Paris!)

This morning, I wake up to a cool breeze coming in from the outside (just in the 50sF -- so about 12C). But the sun is brilliant! Ed tells me it had rained a lot when I was away and so when I step out to survey the garden, I am not surprised to see that everything has grown voluptuous and dense.

And of course, the colors are now very much taking hold in the flower beds! June is when the perennials start to define the outdoor spaces here. So these are my views on this last day of May:

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It's all about the peonies and irises right now! (Well, maybe a few others too: I see a yellow false indigo in the forefront here...)

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The flowering pots of annuals still provide that abundance of shape, color and form...

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... but truly, the eye turns toward the iris and peony.

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No matter where you look. And each year, this show takes my breath away! This is the reward for months of outdoor work!

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Despite the cool temps, Ed and I eat a lovely and leisurely breakfast on the porch.

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And then it's the same old... Only actually not very same at all, because, well, I've got this Paris trip still on my mind. I grocery shop, thinking about the fruits I had purchased just a few days ago at the Buci market. And then I pick up Snowdrop, who, despite yesterday's late arrival, made it to school pretty much on time today. It's not as if her parents had to rouse her from deep sleep -- she seems to have fallen back instantly to her regular schedule. The teachers affirmed this, telling me she had shown no sign of tiredness or jet lag.

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She is excited to see me and instantly clamors to go adventuring!

As we walk the neighborhood and she points which way I should go, I talk a little about Paris and she listens, and I can tell it's a little unreal for her. The memories are definitely vivid, but somehow they don't fit into this landscape. Still familiar, but remote at the same time.

I give her a bowl of cherries (and other favorite fruits)...

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... and we pick up a cherry scone at the coffee shop. Coincidence that it should be cherry. But still, it brings back images of, well, cherries in Paris.

We go to the park. Snowdrop had missed her last session on the park swings in the Luxembourg Gardens. She gets her fill today. (The wind is so brisk that she is happy to keep a pony tail in place. At least for our time by the lesser lake.)

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A climb up the lifeguard chair...

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... for a munch on the cherry scone...

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... and then I take her home. Snowdrop's mom asked me if I wanted a little time to rest after the trip and though rest isn't exactly in the cards, I do have stuff to catch up with and so I agreed to be replaced for the better part of the afternoon by a babysitter.

I spend the rest of the day in the garden, weeding, staking, attending.

And of course, I have my breaks. On the porch, for example (with cuttings of fallen stems from the garden)...

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... reflecting. With a smile.