Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Roots and Wings: gooooo Brittany!

There was a program tonight on France 3 called "Des racines et des ailes"(roots and wings - does that count as a mixed metaphor?) and it was all about Brittany! Even Josselin's castle was featured in it! Mac and I were pretty ridiculously excited, but that rush of recognition (and even a tiny bit of possession) can't be beat. The show was two hours long and focused on restoration and renewal in the region - everything from renovations to castles (a spire at Josselin) to renewing coastlines that had been devastated by an oil spill in the 1970s. It was not nearly historical as our approach to the region has been (for a million understandable reasons), and it gave only a little attention to the Breton aspect (language, music) of Brittany - none at all to its Neolithic past. Well, with a region as rich and fantastic as this one, you can't possibly do it all in two hours (nothing about the cheeses either!).

I'll just expand on one point, which also serves to show what a pleasure it is watching television with Mac. They were talking about seaweed farmers (eh, oui!) who are doing it the old-fashioned way: wading in the seaweed beds while the tide is out (for about 3 hours) to collect the seaweed and then drying it for 2-3 days on the beautiful prairies of a nearby island. Mac silently goes to the web and retrieves this beautiful painting I'd never seen before or even known about, depicting Breton women bringing in seaweed from the low tide. I'm hard pressed to know what they are using the seaweed for now (there was talk of cosmetics and thalassotherapy (which is big business in France, it seems), and I'd really like to know what it was used for in the 19th century. Just goes to show you, when Mac's around, there's almost always a Gauguin connection to be had - and it will be beautiful!

We did our own water therapy this morning, returning to the Oust which has gone back down into its bed. We walked along the gorgeous path heading east (towards Nantes), which is where we found this awesome stick in the form of (surely) the prow dragon of a Viking ship. There were lots of sticks and logs that the river had deposited, but the path had already been cleared.

The weather's becoming really nice, the sun truly warming you up when you're outside. There's that first possibility of spring in the air - it comes when you've forgotten all about spring and then there it is and you remember in a rush all that it entails: the ease, the pleasant surprises, the softness of breezes, day winning over night faster and faster, and all the gorgeous spring and summer fruit that's to come. Iris doted on Eleanor all morning, pushing her stroller around and, here, feeding her bits of apple.

This was as far as the kids would go: "I feel uneasy leaving our town" said Iris - "uneasy"??? what a sentiment for a 6-year old. But the town truly is nestled, and I understand her feeling of leaving it for the wide, open curves of the river. Mac would have walked it to the next town (9 km away) if he could have. Soon enough, there will be time for fantastic long walks. For now, we just spent the day in and out of the house, mostly just marveling at the kids.

I took this picture right after we went to Sam Textile for a new outfit. Iris is the only one of the three who has stated that she wants to "look French" and I love her definition of what that is - I think she's got something really cool going on! I just can't believe my little girl with the big cheeks is the little girl you see here. Is it the hands in the pockets? The wise little gaze? She still looks so vulnerable, but she's also clearly made up her mind about certain things!

Eleanor, I swear to you, was born with her mind made up. That outfit is of her design (although isn't it the thing to do now to wear your dress over pants?). She's wanted this pink unicorn backpack that we see in the gift shop in town at least twice a day for many weeks now, and I don't know why (that possibility of spring?) I finally broke down today. I don't think of pink fuzzy unicorns as Eleanor's idiom (this from the child who rampages at the Lists with quite the mighty swordplay), but boy does she love that pink unicorn.

Oliver demonstrated once again what fun can be had by a boy with a 3euro bag of knights. I absolutely love how the shadow of that bellicose Viking is etched perfectly upon Oliver's left knee. He had quite the scenario going. A lovely afternoon at the promenade. So, long live Brittany and its renewal - and long live Wednesdays in the sun.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I completely understand the feeling of unease related to leaving the town! Although I’m not sure I would have been able to express myself so eloquently when I was six.

    And OF COURSE Eleanor wanted the pink unicorn back-pack—it’s utterly adorable and totally matches her outfit! (And unicorns rock – in a kitschy leprechaun/garden gnome/black velvet type way).

    Is it me or does Oliver’s shadow knight look like he has horns?

    Sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon!!