Let's leap into the void! Oliver is working out a knight's narrative for his friends to see, and definitely, of course, we will start out at the Lists. That is definitely the kids' favorite place to go - it does kind of have it all: the medieval ruin, the canal, views of the castle, walking paths, and (for the parents mostly) breathtaking views of the city (Mac and I are constantly trying to figure out the city walls, and how they kept expanding). So here, the knight's adventures begin, with a leap into action.
A nice contrast to the activities of earlier that morning. (I took this right after my "Eureka!" moment about the whole Candlemas/Groundhog day dilemma: I was singing the little song that my Mom and I used to sing to myself and the line "l'hiver se perd our prend rigeur" flashed out at me (winter lessens or increases) - that's exactly the whole point of the groundhog, is to see if winter will continue or end early. So, another glance at Wikipedia (!) and sure enough, there's a pagan holiday behind it all. A couple, actually: the celtic goddess Brigid is celebrated at this time (and she has a fascinating story, including intersections with the Sheela-na-gigs of Ireland - great student paper on the subject this past semester); and then there's this pagan ritual of the bear, which also involves hope for the early fertility of the land. When in doubt, think pagan! Some long-lost ritual is usually the connection between incongruous modern ones. (Still would like to know how this particular pagan memory traveled over to America - talk about longue durée!). I tried to tell the kids about all this but they were, uh, otherwise occupied.
But back to Oliver's escapades. So this knight is going to have all sorts of adventures. Here, Oliver tells me, he's thinking about his best friend, and about telling him about the korrigans - elvin creatures of Brittany who live under megaliths, and come out only at night.
And then the valiant knight took a break, and decided to read his Harry Potter book. Monsieur Potter pretty much took over after that, so I think these adventures are to be continued... Will my dear Oliver remember reading in the shadow of the castle of Josselin? I hope so. I will forever.
The girls had a great day as well - while Mac and Eleanor went to gather sandwiches (yes, it was that warm! we picnicked!), Iris was classifying all the moss and lichen she could find ("cat moss," "bear moss," "fish scale lichen" depending on the texture and color. This photo is of Iris with "heart lichen" - nice!). We had a great lunch, and watched a front move in (the weather here is so dramatic - it really is never the same thing from hour to hour) - we made our way back up the hill to town, bought our postcards for the week, and then Iris skipped across to the church - she now has Eleanor "loving to pray."
Here is Eleanor praying in our little church. I'll be honest with you, I'm not quite sure what each girl thinks she's doing - certainly something loving. But Iris is convinced that you have to buy a candle to pray (that you have to pay to pray - else God won't see your prayer, she said) - we're working on making prayer a bit more abstract than that, but she's having none of it. Candle or bust. Eleanor says she really likes how her body feels when she prays (she has a point: praying is a really interesting position for the body to take - nothing else like it). She prayed for her daycare teacher to be happy (she already is - both girls seem to pray for things to continue well). Nice stuff. The draw that this church has for the girls is really interesting to me - for Iris, it's clearly a love of simply being in that space - she likes the smell, the echoed sounds, the shuffle of her own feet, and (oh yes) the candles. Eleanor hasn't articulated anything yet, beyond liking how her body feels when she kneels and puts her little pudgy hands together. The pull that certain spaces can have on you is intense (it was the library at Agnes Scott, the perfect feel of that place, that instantly made my college decision - and there's the familiar space of any museum: the quiet, the shuffling of feet...). To be continued, this interesting pull for the girls. (It's just too still for Oliver, I think - he's right back out the door like a flash, doing imaginary sword play or some such).
A pause and then back out to the fantastic "Sam Textile" (think Dollar Store, except of course nothing costs just one euro (save the blessed baguette) - perfect for getting Eleanor "turns out I can go through two or three shirts a day" Mackenzie a couple of shirts and Iris some new PJs - she has had some kind of growth spurt since coming here and her current PJs looked absurd!) (lots and lots of t-shirts with English on them - I can never get enough of those - favorite today: a big-eyed kitten looking up surrounded by the phrases: "I'm lovely" and "Wait for me" - !!!). And then on to the library - I'll take more pictures next time, it's such a great place. We got another Asterix (we're hooked!), some kiddie books and an education CD for computer games (yea!), Mac got an enormous 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tome (en français) and I picked up a gorgeous old book on Romanesque Art in Brittany - we're set! Oh! one last thing: turns out that Dumas serialized The Three Musketeers in a French newspaper - the length of each chapter is perfect for a read before bed - I'm only on chapter 3 (D'Artagnan has just met Mr. de Treville and witnessed the first bristling at the mention of Richelieu), but will tune in here every once in a while with updates on the boys' rollicking adventures!
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