This morning held the anticipation of a reunion, and so I went to the market with Eleanor with even more eager anticipation than usual. Eleanor, too, as she has now has her eye on a pair of fetching little clogs - go, Breton girl! The cheeses that will accompany Mac while my mom and I go to Paris for a few days are, starting with the big wedge at the left, an Appenzeller (Mac's absolutely favorite cheese, and, for three days, companion - he highly recommends its web site); a Livarot (which will be everybody's companion very soon - stinky!); and a little Crotin de Chavignol (a really sweet, as in nice and dear, little goat cheese). I bought more lasagna than usual to make sure everyone ate plenty, and proudly picked up my pre-ordered roasted chicken, which we ate for dinner tonight (it reheated perfectly!).
It's clear to me that we're becoming comfortable here when I turn to see Oliver plunked down on the steps of the main square of the city reading his book (the third in the Inkheart trilogy, Inkdeath - yikes!). We eagerly awaited the passage of friends as they were making their way back from their Breton holiday to Paris (Paris spring school vacation end this week-end). Delphine and Olivier have always been magical to me. I rented my first ever Paris apartment from Delphine and got to know her and Olivier as they were just starting their life together. Her grace and wit and warmth made that often existential dissertation research year a much more beautiful experience. And then somehow, through their incredible worldwide travels (diplomatic service), we'd lost touch. So it had been ten years since we'd last seen each other. Her boys are now 10 and 13, and she and Olivier had to laugh to see us (poof!) with three kids. Mac and I had just started dating when we knew them. I've been weaving Delphine et Olivier into Baby Pink Dragon stories for the past few nights, so the kids were totally ready to meet the King and Queen of Burgundia (Delphine's parents are from Burgundy).
We had reserved at the Guetennoc (Saturday being market day being super busy everywhere) and so made a happy table upstairs. Mac and Olivier got to catch up, Delphine and my mom and I got to catch up, and the kids ran around in between. One of Delphine's sons is taking Italian (they spent three years in Rome) and the other is taking Arabic - he's the 10-year old!!! There's much more to talk about there, and I can't wait to pick up the conversation again with Delphine, who herself is on her way (these things take a while here) to becoming a lycée teacher.
Delphine understood Iris very quickly, dubbing her "dégourdie," which the French dictionary describes as "adroite, avisée, pleine de ressources" (adroit, in-the-know, full of resources). I always have to look up words after time with Delphine - the most wonderful turns of phrases. Here's Iris working out some complex way to get the snails that we ordered for Oliver to try (and, yes, he absolutely loved them!). This picture is really kind of incredible to behold. A friendship that grew when my life really came alive: when research took off, and Mac walked in, and Paris was really mine for a bit - that's a special thing. And to reunite after ten really vivid years for everybody (children, careers, everything else) - a simultaneous homecoming and discovery, the sense of something wonderful starting again. When Iris saw this picture as I was downloading it this afternoon, she sighed and said "Wow, she was really beautiful." Her first Queen of Burgundia, after all.
So we tooled around the town and walked around the castle down by the canal and back up to the main square. Much of the town is bedecked in wisteria - and it turns out that it smells fantastic as well. Eleanor was certainly pleased to be framed by it. She babbled in French with Delphine and generally ran around. She was asleep in her dad's arms about 10 minutes after this picture was taken.
A walk down to the Lists seemed like the right thing to do after seeing our friends off for the drive to Paris, and once again, I was stunned to see how leafed out everything is. The towers of the castle have all but disappeared from view, but this lush, lush foliage makes a pretty excellent backdrop, too.
And then the Breton sky did its wonderful thing of looking like the Apocalypse to the north and looking like the most beautiful spring day to the south. My mom thought that she was seeing things! I love the effect of the steely gray sky against Eleanor's pink shirt (yes, that is an ice cream stain on her shirt - spring!).
See what I mean? Oliver looks like he's been photo-shopped into a dramatic landscape. Or that a dramatic sky from a 17th-century Dutch painting has been photo-shopped in. Well, not to worry, the winds blew, the clouds left, and Mamie ended her Bretagne sojourn under a sunny sky. Tomorrow, an afternoon TGV to Paris, France!
9 hours ago