With the return of Monsieur Mac comes the return of Messieurs les Fromages! That Brie de Melun looks like it could come over and slap us around a little bit (yikes!), but mmm, mmm, is it good (another Iris choice - that is one brave girl!). Moving clockwise, a lovely, and surprisingly mild, "bio" (organic) hunk of Gruyère from Savoie holds up a fantastic Ossau Iraty (Oliver is wild about this cheese, saying "It keeps tasting good even after you taste it"). And rounding out the circle is the wonderful Darley, which we ate all up before Mac could enjoy it last time. The line was nice and long today - lots of time to chat and admire the cheeses and get free samples (the kids are starting to really love the market).
More definite signs of spring: strawberries (but I forgot to check where they're from!) lushly arranged so as to be nigh irresistible. We got the ones in the basket lined with pink tissue paper - it being spring and all. We make four definite stops every time we go: the Fromagier, the Fruit Guy, the Cute Butcher, and the Vegetable People (these have all become their names). Iris is getting really attached to them all and has talked about giving them drawings.
Oliver looks so happy and fulfilled in front of the butcher's stall, :-) This week we got a nice cut of lamb (feeling compelled to show our Easter cheer culinarily with all the good food around), some chicken, and the sacred lasagna that, really, we do get every single week.
Iris was clearly overjoyed at just about everything in this moment. I swear that gap in her teeth is getting bigger - and I love her smile all the more. Just a little practice and we're talking about a champion whistler here! I had a wonderful conversation in the Vegetable People line with one of her classmate's moms and we're making plans to get the girls together - voilà! We talked about lots and lots of things from being working moms to French CEO salaries (the line was delightfully long at the Vegetable People, and this mom is super interesting) and at one point she paused and said "It's so nice to hear someone be positive about France - we just complain about everything all the time." ("Nous somme râleurs" for you francophones out there!). This statement flabbergasts francophilic me - I really can't see past my love of the fundamental principles of France (not the liberté, etc., but the core values of humanism and human dignity) even as I know they're being tested by post-colonialism's ills. But then again, if people don't complain, there's no social change - so hoorah for the râleurs!
And isn't this a nice sight?
Our kitchen has been the site of much mirth lately - here we are celebrating "Pre-Easter" with egg cups (Hello Kitty, Buzz Lightyear, and Woody) that came filled with a big chocolate egg. Easter is going to be very interesting to witness, I think - there's been so much talk about the Vatican and the child abuse scandals of late (France is supposed to have one of the lowest incident rates in Europe, or even the world - a German analysis in a paper that Mac read while there credits the French culture of laïcité for the success in turning in the perpetrators early to the secular, or lay, authorities) and I wonder if that will have any effect. Hopefully the good stuff (different for each person) can be kept apart for this very bad stuff. (Well, that's a matter of huge debate these days, actually). Easter is definitely part of the cultural rhythms as they intersect with Zone B school holidays, and prompts a 3-day week-end during which families travel all over France to visit each other. As usual, our kids will be learning about it through paintings.
It might be an interesting conversation to talk about the differences between this manuscript page painting from the Gerona Beatus of 975, in which the shapes an composition are rigid, and the colors have had to conform....
... with this Elevation of the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens from 1610-11, in which the colors carry all of the emotional weight and visual energy of the piece (the way the sun hits Christ's flesh, the blues and reds of the attendant figures, the foliage framing it all). The Crucifixion is, of course, pretty hard to understand on about one hundred levels (the cruelty, for starters) - but the kids are certainly eager at this point. Brittany has shown them quite a few Crucifixions even along the roadside. :-)
Pending any theological musings, we went out to the movies this afternoon! How to Train Your Dragon became straightforwardly, Dragons here, and we found a movie theater that showed it in 3-D (well worth it - swooping rides on the back of a dragon!) in Locminé, just 20 minutes away! As we sat down in the plush theater seats (a must for French movie theaters: that the seats be plush), I mused out loud that I felt as though I should buckle myself in (!!!) which is absurd, but I guess that I find the 3-D really convincing. Oliver looked up at me in surprise and said "That's so funny, that's how I feel when I sit down to read a book." Wow! The kid really goes places with his reading!
So, I am very tired from last night's battling in Le Combat des Trentes board game. The game is awesome - just the right combination of strategy and chance and never a dull moment. We left the board last night with two out of ten rounds done and a tie - much medieval battlefield strategy (and chance) to ensue tomorrow night! Please do note Mac's incredibly serious face as he starts to tally up points thus far. I love that serious face!
9 hours ago