'Tis a wonderful thing to celebrate turning 8 with a plate-full of escargot, and Oliver celebrated in grand style. This moment of triumph was preceded by many of pleasure, so allow me to back-track, and then we'll zoom forward to the spectacular celebration that the Guetennoc always provide the children on their birthdays. In the meantime, this image just makes me smile and smile...
If the world were a Right and Honourable place it would bestow Beauty Fellowships on artists like Alison Guinee and fund extensive travel throughout Brittany for inspiration and ideas. As a weaver, knitter, author, and tireless creator, Alison sees the world, I imagine, in a wondrous way. You and I would see a tapestry, she would see every warp and weft (and woof?) and the gestures that placed them there. She has an expert eye and a meticulous gaze - she must to create the beautiful meditations on form and medium that she creates. And so I've dreamed for a long time of bringing Alison to La Gacilly, the pretty little town which has given several medieval streets over to artisans who have set up their studios inside their shops. Here you see the trellis over the entrance of the woodworker's shop. Being here with Alison and her incredible daughter Mallory, for whom the entire world is possible as she prepares to go to college, has very much been a dream come true.
How could it be anything else with a lunch like this one? My mom and I had stopped in for a cup of tea at the Enfants Gat-Thés, and I had vowed then and there to return with Alison and Mallory. And so we had lunch: mine started with a tart made with nettles (who knew?), then a very good cut of pork indeed with fennel, carrots and zucchini, shitake, and a broiled tomatoe - oh, and the older, darker cousin of the mousse au chocolat, the marquise au chocolat. No wonder we had a 3-hour lunch!
We did walk away with one mystery that we're hoping the Latin experts (calling Dave!) can help us with, and that is this bit o' Latin copied by a stained glass artist who wanted it up to help display her stained glass letters which are inspired by the historiated capitals in illuminated manuscripts. I can't really make heads or tails of it, except to see the word "rex," king. She said herself that it was late when she copied the small medieval script, so there's probably room for interpretation here. We had a lovely chat with said stained glass artist - I was able to see shape and color through Alison's comments, and they were beautiful.
Here is the radiant Alison, as photographed by Iris, who sat lovingly at Alison's side during dinner. Watching the two of them talk, with Iris explaining various aspects of her France life, and Alison gently encouraging my dear girl who usually gets talked right over by Oliver and Eleanor, was bliss indeed.
And here is wonderful Mallory, also photographed by admiring Iris. I remember as a little girl being utterly in awe of young women in my life (babysitters, yes, but also daughters of my parents' friends). I know that this is what Iris feels for Mallory, as Iris herself grows in her consciousness of a self and its ambitions and possibilities. Mallory has a freedom to her intellectual curiosity that makes me want to teach again. She has one of those fine minds that accumulates knowledge only to want more, and make more connections. Plus, she's really, really funny. We had to laugh realizing that the three of us had spent, all told, six (6!) hours in restaurants today - a lot of those hours, laughing. Woo-hoo!
Sweet Alison gave Oliver a gift of a magician's set from the good people at Haba. I love the studiousness on his face, and Iris already getting her hands on the materials. It was such a cool gift...
...and much appreciated.
So Happy Birthday, dear Oliver - may there always be fireworks at your table (why not?). We will all be asleep in bed by the time 8 p.m. American time rolls around out here - but I can easily remember the doctor and nurses calling your name when we knew your presence was imminent, and I will never forget your calm, perfect little face as, bundled up, you took in the world all around you. It's been great ever since you got here, little man.
3 days ago