Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Still Discovering

Here is Eleanor in our newly discovered library, or, "mediatheque" as it is known here. She settled right in and pulled a book out (I wonder if the letters look any different to her? probably not) while Oliver oohed over the Asterix collection and Iris went for every pink book she saw. Interestingly, last night both Oliver and Iris really wanted to read: Oliver read his awesome Monstrology book from Santa Claus out loud to anyone who would listen and Iris kind of desperately wanted to read Dick and Jane - Ivy and Bean have proven to be a much better and more challenging read and she had them with her all day today. So the library seemed like the place to go. It's lovely! Bright colors, mats and places to settle in - about half the room is for kids: lots and lots of BD (Bandes Dessinées - Asterix, Tintin, Lucky Luke and the like), CDs, too, and about half for grown-ups: lots of novels, a Brittany section which looked really good, including some beautiful art history books (a great big book on Romanesque Art in Brittany - yipee!). There's nothing like getting a library card to make you feel like home!

Walking back from the library, we noted lots of markers on buildings we hadn't noticed before - more to report on later! We went to lunch to celebrate the one-month anniversary of our departure at a restaurant that Oliver really loves because of its nautical theme: the Crêperie de la Marine. The owner is incredibly nice to us, and indulgent of our silly questions. Here's Mac cutting up Iris's dessert crêpe which was filled with a jam of "nèfles" - he showed us the French dictionary definition, complete with picture and cool idiomatic phrase "Des nèfles!" which can roughly be translated as "Bupkis!" - nothing, not much, zip. Might need to start using it (although we never lack for anything around here!). A "nèfle," it turns out, is a "medlar" in English - never heard of it, but the English definition, as the French, recommend eating them when they're just past being ripe and thus a little soft. Yum!

Here's Eleanor reacting exuberantly to her first taste ever of cassis (black currant) ice cream - it is really flavorful and a deep, deep red. I don't know what Oliver and I are doing, but I'd just had a lemon tart, and was clearly feeling good! The owner also showed us an amazing book we can purchase at the Office of Tourism that has an 88-stop tour of the region - 88!!! It's called the Circuit of the Dragon, starts in nearby Ploermel and winds throughout the region - hmm, idea for long-term goal! As we were leaving, the owner asked us if we knew about the island further down the canal - truth be told, we'd never been down the canal away from the castle. Wonders awaited.

If you look in the depth of the picture, you'll see the tip of this little island where the river forks to encircle it. The castle is behind us now, and this stretch along the canal stretches, I do believe, for miles and miles. We saw other walkers, a couple, some runners - can you imagine what this path is going to be like when the trees bloom? It's already so gorgeous now - that tree-lined curve, the calmness of the water.

And then marvelously, inexplicably, a house, just one, on this surprising island (it's kind of a fingerling of land, much more oval than round). What is this house? Who lives there? By what marvelous circumstance did they come to live here? There are canal locks right near the house - was/is this the house of the canal lock keeper person? I'm sure there's a word for it. Ooo! the Breton Fairy Tale of the Day yesterday had the word "paludier" in it - that took some digging: it means "salt water marsh worker" - who knew? And what is that work? So much to learn still... This little house had all the markings of a house found by weary travelers in a fairy tale - down to the smoke coming out of the chimney indicating a warm fire inside. We didn't see anybody, just an enormous St. Bernard patrolling the little inner island bridge you see stretching to the right there. Mystery!

But tell me, who are these brave folks, kayaking down the canal? This picture was taken about an hour after the previous one (note the dramatic change in weather - clouds moved in, blocked the sun that had shone so brightly just a bit ago), and we were back at the Lists, clearly the kids' favorite spot to play, play, play. Three men and lots of kids were in those kayaks, paddling against the current (which looks pretty strong to us) - brave souls! I hope they all had a great big cup of hot chocolate when they were done - maybe at the house on the island!

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