This gorgeous image is what happens when Mac "BFA in photography" Mackenzie plays around with our new camera during our morning walk. Aside from the dramatic aesthetic choice of black and white, there's this beautiful stretch to the space and all of these interesting juxtapositions (brushy trees, hard stones...) - I could try for a million years and never get that shot. (I could bore you with my futile attempts at landscape photography, but will rely on the kids' cuteness in my snapshots, instead!) I love this image. And we loved this space! I'd wondered about it a long time, driving along the road on the opposite side of the canal. I'd thought the arches were all that remained of some medieval cloister (realizing all the while that that would be a somewhat odd place for a cloister: so close to the town, not up high). And indeed, they're completely secular. They are all that remain of two huge houses which stood amidst a row of commercial houses down by the canal.
Here is what they used to look like; fantastic, eh? The heartbreaking part is that they were standing until a fire in 1902, which seems so recent compared to their original construction date of somewhere around 1400. The sign speaks of the hay kept in the attic catching on fire. Doh!
The whole area was so lovely: grassy banks of the canal, picnic tables and benches scattered throughout, and here, behind the arcades, a pétanque (bowling) lane. I told the kids that they were "kid lists" for practice jousting and they didn't even blink - totally went for the idea and got right to it! We've now started seeing these throughout the town - will I ever have the heart to tell them they're just bowling lanes? Probably not.
Could you tell this serious jouster anything different? I hardly think so. Eleanor really got into it, too (ask Mac's shins - ow!). Iris was busy spearing leaves onto sticks (always building machines, no matter how rudimentary) and sending messages to fish in other towns. A perfect day. It was warm (it must have been close to 50F), so i put together a picnic and we ate outside - yea!
And yet the day was to hold more wonder! The much-heralded "Tic Tac Magie" was today!!! I was totally wrong about there not being a Parent-Teacher Organization - there is indeed one, and it brought Tic Tac to town! The kids' tickets were free, and ours were 2euros ($3) and the Centre Culturel was packed (and a very nice Centre Culturel it was, too - in this tiny town!). Tic Tac was awesome, and for many reasons: doves appeared out of thin air (and we were in the second row!), cards switched themselves out, a bunny did indeed make its way into a top hat, and little did I know when I snapped this picture that a full-blown hen was momentarily to emerge from those handkerchiefs! But lest you think that the kids just watched with bated breath, I need to specify that the mood was more vaudeville than that - there was a ton of slapstick and comedy and more slapstick. And slapstick, my friends, is a universal language. (Actually, I wonder about that - is it always funny when someone tries to walk through a screen door?) (Yes) (But don't think me cruel - I've done it dozens of times!). In any case, all the kids in the audience were laughing and laughing and shouting stuff out. There is something so completely blissful about watching your kids just give themselves over to laughing - all three of ours had their little heads thrown back, eyes squinted, mouths open - total joy. Three cheers for Tic Tac!
Perhaps because it's been so cold, we couldn't get enough of our warm day, so talking all the while of Tic Tac's tricks (which is fun to say out loud), we headed out for a walk through the Bois d'Amour (the Woods of Love). Eleanor has taken to calling her dad her "Trusty Steed" and I just love the sureness with which she grips the sword in her left hand, planted firmly on her little haunch, while her right hand gently caresses the edge of her blade. She and Oliver gave the English pirates that were apparently chasing us throughout the woods quite the challenge. Iris, gentle Iris, was a mermaid the whole time, cooking soft shell crabs and other luscious seafood for the knights that were Oliver and Eleanor.
At the end of the day, though, it's exploring nature that wins out, and I am left holding, as ever, a bizarre assortment of items, in this instance a cork (Oliver's treasure map), a sword (Eleanor's weapon of choice) and a bunny (Iris's sea horse). Onwards and upwards!
17 hours ago