Sunday, May 9, 2010

American Mother's Day in the Bois d'Amour

It being Mother's Day in America, many lovely wishes for a happy day were exchanged with loved ones in the States today: right back at you, wonderful women! The Bois d'Amour and the awesome macro zoom lens in my camera joined forces to provide this little gift. It's a fern leaf, before its unfurling. I could expand upon the terribly sentimental metaphor of these leaves curling protectively around their tiny inner fronds as an image of motherhood itself, but I'll leave that aside (I mean, really), and just revel in this beautiful, still, waiting scene. It's in how perfectly each little strand is curled in on itself that it amazes. Ever since Mac showed me the work of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), I've looked at nature differently, seeking out those perfect poetic (and perfectly poetic) forms which, indeed, do exist.

It was off to the Bois d'Amour after a lunch of soup and cheeses and as you can see the forest has fleshed out yet again. Today was our one day of warmth - it will be cold again tomorrow, so there was much gamboling along the path.

Some little tired legs needed a wee respite, and found it on this strange bench (?) structure. We think that something else might be coming, but for now, it's a bench. If the bushes behind the kids look strange, it's because they've been spray-painted - apparently there have been a series of thefts of the Bois d'Amour bushes and so now the park gardeners have had to spray-paint the bushes to deter further theft. !!! There's been a tremendous amount of work done by the gardeners these past few weeks, and almost every path has been transformed or touched up.

This used to be just tough grass and dirt - now it's a lush field of grass into which Iris can dangle her legs. I feel like I need to store up these images of green, at least for the next two days. Once the Ascension holiday starts (Wednesday-Sunday), we'll probably be back outside. We're already cooking up a couple of visits - the afterglow of that spring vacation lasts basically for the month of May.

Eleanor is embracing this handbag idea with full commitment. She even has the handle over her wrist! I swear I keep thinking she's going to start calling it her "Handbag" (if you've seen either of the Madagascar movies, this is actually a pretty funny scenario). I feel very strongly that I'm getting the chance to actually see the children change and move in the world differently. The most remarkable change is perhaps in Oliver - just the kinds of questions he's asking, the kinds of things he's interested in, the energy he brings to abstract considerations. But the same thing with Iris, my goodness, I feel like Iris is growing up every day and always trying to figure out yet more ways to grow up. What do I mean by growing up? For me it's a connection to the world around you (which Iris has always had), but it's also pursuing those intellectual interests (Oliver and this WWII thing now, for example, or Iris and her inventions) - in some ways, it's moving beyond the self they've been recognizing they have these first years of life. And Eleanor, who is just shy of her fourth birthday, has become herself (as I knew her when she was a feisty infant) even more deeply. The handbag, you should know, was used as a weapon (for thwacking a sister on the head) later that day.

Despite having been here so many lovely times, we still discovered a new path today. It led to this sublime little forest whose floor was carpeted with what looked like an intricate, lush green rug. It instantly scared Iris ("Do you have any idea what could be hiding in there?") and it was actually darker than the photograph allows you to see. The darkness came from that lushness more than anything else. Beautiful. We made our way slowly back out and left the Bois d'Amour - the kids with their treasures, me and Mac with our respite - and went to sit in a terrace for a coffee and ice cream. Possibly the most perfect Mother's Day ever.

And now, due to the popular appeal of one person (Mac), there will be a new feature starting this Sunday evening and that is the Sunday Evening Dessert. Ever Sunday, Mac gets the kids a little something special at the boulangerie to bolster their courage for the week ahead. Despite this school week lasting only two days, the desserts were marvelous: an excellent kouign amann in the bottom of the image - this is the classic Breton dessert, and it does all sorts of wonderful things with light, fluffy pastry captured by caramel. Then, the green fellow is a Salambo (the cream inside is vanilla/banana flavored!) which Eleanor really favors. Finally, there's the world famous ├ęclair, chocolate not coffee this time, especially favored by Oliver. We split all these into two and then everybody gets to try at least a couple of things. This is nice: our remaining week-ends will be book-ended by images of cheese and desserts!

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