Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What We Did This Summer

Presently we are immersed in back to school adjustments, and Blue House blues... it's not that the Blue House is undone, it's only that the cosmic farces are determined to see us prove our determination and resolve, which has left me feeling undone. So, recalling the age old tradition of sharing highlights of Summer, I am posting about our day in Avignon, France. Honestly, this trip of a lifetime, our family vacation in Europe, will serve me with good memories for a lifetime. What a blessing.

We drove from Brienz, Switzerland all the way to Avignon, in one day! And that was after spending the entire morning absorbing every last charming detail of Ballenberg, the Swiss Open Air Museum. That was a long drive. We arrived quite late and of course it was still light out and I was anxious to share the first place on this adventure that I actually knew. Remember, my Mom and I were the scouts, sent in advance to figure out all of this abroad business? Well, this was finally my opportunity to show Geoff and our children that I really did learn something!

We checked in to our little hotel, with fragrant lavender growing by the door, then we headed directly to the old part of the town, to the Pope's Palace or Palais des Papes and the bridge.

I'll never know if it was good timing or a missed opportunity... we arrived in Avignon before the official start of their annual Theater Festival. The town was abuzz, even late at night or maybe especially late at night, since it was cooler at night. Everywhere were people trying to get the word out about their theater, their performers, their contribution to art. And I do mean everywhere. No surface was too private or too sacred to be exempt from theater posters and announcements. We saw what I will think of as warm-up acts... some dancers, a juggler, people in costumes or simply colorfully dressed. It was fun. It was exciting to see the preparations and feel the anticipation. It was fun to walk all over the town late at night, to hear the cicadas and recall the cold and windy days and nights when my Mom and I were there.

We ate at the same "touristy" cafe where Delia introduced me to the most delicious salad ever. Locals may insist they know what is best, but sometimes we must be who and what we are and so we were tourists. Travelers from America, looking for something new and French and good and we found it in the brasserie... L'Hôtel de Ville. It was magnifique! Those olives and that bread, the warm night and long-slow service and all the sights strolling by. It was touristifical.

The boys left the table a few times to push their way through the crowd and see what the jugglers or the dancers were up to. And I pinched myself, finding it hard to believe that I had been here before, that we were this fortunate!... all of us here together, just as we had hoped and planned for!

The next day we came back and we walked. We walked and walked. I took the children across the town and to the very same boulangerie where I had my first ever taste of pain chocolate... or chocolate croissant, as we preferred to call the flakey, fresh, delicious bread baked with a modest yet decadent bit of chocolate in it's buttery center. It was worth the distance we covered, it was worth passing up the other bakeries and waiting for the place I knew would be as wonderful as it was last March.


Ahhh... breakfast and lunch!

And a promise kept... Maria rode once the night before and this was her happy reunion with the carousel, so she could ride in the sea shell.

And for the rest of the morning we walked all around the ancient and walled town and we tried to imagine what it would be like when every corner, every theater and every bench and plaza would be filled with performers and patrons. Probably it would be amazing and certainly crowded. It would be something to witness... maybe next time?

Was it funny? Did their humor please the crowd?

Will we see the movie?

I like to think they sounded merry.

I like to think we would have got good seats for this show.

We had a good Summer.

Very good.