Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sun, rain, bathtubs, bumps in the night… eleven p.m. pie

The weather here is a jumble of everything good… sun dancing in and out of clouds, surprise storms, steady rain that the birds sing right through, and then wind to blow it all away and the sun comes around again.  The wind comes in unpredictable gusts, like it’s teasing you… you walk around a building and all of a sudden, you’re nearly blown over, or an abrupt strong puff seems to come straight up from the cobbles and your skirt almost goes over your face.  One minute you’re wrapping your sweater just a little bit tighter around you, the next, everything goes still and the sun is shining hard and bright and you’re feeling like changing into a bathing suit.  And there is wonderful thunder here… it shakes the cottage like an earthquake! It’s fun… like a week’s work of atmosphere stirred into one day. 
The only way to bathe here is by using this bathtub. It is at most four feet long and is split-level.  The spigot/drain half of the tub is very deep, and then steps up to a second shallow level.  You cannot lie down in the bath… you can sit on the upper level, but even if you filled the tub to the brim while sitting in the upper level, the water would just cover your lap.  It’s a little bit inconvenient for washing your hair, but it’s nice in a way, and there is plenty of hot water.

Today was my first meal out.  I had mussels cooked with herbs and onions and white wine.  They were SO good.  Um… they served them in a metal pot like a mini cauldron, and I ate every last one.  I think it was supposed to be a dish for two and I ate them all – at least 75 mussels.  I’m not exaggerating or joking.  It was a good thing, because I’ve been prone to wandering around for hours like a mesmerized orphan, thinking, observing… or painting until I feel like I have some kind of dementia.  I guess this is a good sort of meditation, but I know I’m also going fuzzy in the head sometimes because I’ve forgotten to eat.  When I woke up this morning, I had a cup of tea and a piece of the pie I made last night and then I went out to explore and the next thing I knew it was two o’clock in the afternoon and I was feeling weak, and that’s when I had those mussels.  I ate them on a deck overlooking the river at a place called ‘Le Papillon’ (the butterfly).  Then I drank a big cup of coffee with a whole pitcher of steamed milk.  

When I got back to the cottage, I had planned on putting my paints in my backpack and going back on that path through the woods to try to paint the field of Holsteins I saw earlier in the week.  But when I went upstairs to change into jeans, the bed looked so cozy, I thought I would just lie on it for a few minutes.  But then I wanted to get under the covers, and then I heard rain on the roof and I decided to forget about painting the cows for a little while.  I felt so full and happy I just laid in the bed watching the leaves blowing in the wind and the shadows on the ceiling and listening to the rain pattering.  It was the kind of happiness that most people don’t have time for… like when you were little in the moments before falling asleep in the afternoon, nothing to do but let your mind wander and wait for sleep to come, and when you wake up, there’s nothing pressing on you and you can lie there resting until the fuzziness between what you saw and heard and felt in your dreams and what you are seeing and hearing and feeling in wakefulness becomes clear. 

I don’t want to admit it, but there is something I haven’t been liking.  I don’t like it when night comes.  First of all, I’ve never been very good at letting the day go… there’s usually more I expected to get done and when it’s time to go to bed, sometimes it feels more like defeat than the natural end of a day.  It especially feels funny when you are in an unfamiliar place and have no one to say ‘goodnight’ to.  And it feels even funnier when you don’t really know a soul nearby, nobody to run to if you have an emergency, and the closest telephone is a payphone screwed into the wall and you’d have to punch in about 58 numbers before you could even get ahold of anyone… So, I have been feeling a little bit uneasy when I try to fall asleep some nights.  Two nights I’ve heard owls right outside my window, which was exciting and a good thing.  Then there was the night the clothes line I rigged up in the studio to hang my paintings from collapsed, and I had no way of knowing what the crash was until I got the courage to go downstairs and investigate, expecting to find a smashed window or something.  But with every night, I’m becoming more relaxed.  I remind myself that there is no security in this life, and anything, good or bad, could happen at any moment.  So I may as well be at peace, and when occasions happen, just rise to them accordingly and to the best of my ability.  Last night before bed, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  I needed to use up the strawberries I got at the market on Thursday.  MMM!  It turned out well, and I slept soundly.

Happy Mother’s day to my mom, and to both of my grandmas and to all of my friends who are mamas!
I wonder what kind of tree this is?
“It was c. 1112 that a daring, young knight named Rivallon le Roux, a member of the family of the Lords of Dinan, set off for the Crusades where he distinguished himself on the battlefields of Palestine.  In the midst of a battle, he made a vow that, if he was allowed to see Dinan again, he would pay for the building of a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, to be named Saint-Sauveur.  He did return to Dinan, and he commissioned the building of the magnificent sanctuary which you have just entered.” – Excerpt from the guide by Gerard Malherbe.

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