Thursday, August 27, 2009

closing remarks

final thoughts
from the dordogne valley

and with that,
my friends,
i close my epistle from france.

at least, this one. . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

dordogne valley

really it was pretty true to form for us,
the way we once again decided
the night before
exactly how we would spend our last week
in this blessed country.
we had been tossing up a handful of ideas
ever since we arrived here,
this and that, that and this.
but finally in a quick moment
as we were checking maps and packing bags
it was clear where the roads would take us.
the dordogne valley.
yet another hidden treasure
france has to offer,
with its rocky cliffs, winding river,
castles on every vantage point,
and lush green forest and farmland
interspersed throughout.

and it was just yesterday
that i was finally compelled
to have the "spoiled" talk with milla.
with "fun things" and ice cream every day,
both she (and i) must realize
the dream will soon be over.
and as i tuck her into bed and remind her
how many short days are left
before returning home again,
she still gets all choked up
and i quickly have to change the subject
to steer away the tears.

i mean, i don't really believe that old adage,
"all good things must come to an end,"
of course, but still. 
these final days here
do make me wonder. . .

Friday, August 21, 2009

goodbye for now

and with a suitcase full of memories
as clear as the clearest day
we say our goodbyes
to the loire valley.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


and for the most part,
i had mainly one worry about this whole trip.
i mean, i have spent the last 8 years
living in the center of sprawling metropolises,
just another sardine, some 10 million in count.
i have become accustomed to the pace.
i have gotten used to running into people (literally)
everywhere i go.
to the being in such tight quarters.
to being able to find anything.
to having friends around.
to stores open all night.
to the city hum.

would i miss it?
would i go nuts?
would i shrivel up in seclusion?
would the lack of human contact
drive me to insanity?

and now, my friends,
i can tell you.
there is not much that i miss at all.
i have eaten up every moment of the seclusion.
to be the only ones at the park.
to not have seen a traffic jam in 5 weeks.
to not have to pass by 5 people
every time i enter my house.
to not hear neighbors outside
(except for that donkey).
to not have to wait in lines.

now i don't intend to become a recluse.
but i will say,
there's likely a much better chance
of my going nuts in the city
than in a place like this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


with only a week in the area last year,
and only one day to try my luck
at the antiques market in paris,
i am finally able to take advantage
of the delectable brocante
found in the nooks and crannies of the loire valley.
and i wouldn't say it's on every corner--
it has taken a little effort.
but, oh, what treasures to be found.
i am packing up my little pieces
here and there
and painfully lamenting the fact
that i can't take home
a crate of furniture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

sketch du jour


next town over
where our leisurely evening stroll
and our evening picnic by twilight
under the trees and the bats
was serenaded by the saxophone
of the blues festival.

Monday, August 17, 2009


and really
he reminded me of a little boy
opening that train set on christmas morning
after months of admiring it
in the display window from the street.
he was giddy.
cute and giddy.
and maybe even a little bit nervous.
and as he put on his earmuffs
and strapped himself in
we took his picture
and then waved and waved
as he sped down the grassy runway.
his flight led him over the hilly countryside,
the quaint little towns below
with their stone houses and their churches,
the farmland and the crops,
the chateaus and the gardens,
as the sun set on the horizon.
while we waited
we swung on the swings
and took a walk along the dirt road
and gathered a bouquet of wildflowers
and pet the big "gentil" dog.
and when he flew over briefly
at his 1900 feet above us
she called to him until he was out of sight
beyond the trees:
"where you are, dad?"
"are you flying, dad?"
"hi, dad!"
"when you going to come?"
and when he did come back, safe and sound,
there were hurrahs and hugs
and jumping into laps
and lots of
"i want to go flying, too"s.

and now we are reminded of our
little boy on christmas morning
 every time we see a flying trike overhead.
"there's dada's airplane!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

the weeping willow

i'm not sure if it was one book
or every book from my childhood
that so romanticized the weeping willow tree.
but along with a bay window
i was certain that if only i could have
a weeping willow in my backyard
i would have it all.
i would hide from the rest of the world,
i would read
little house on the prarie and judy bloom
in pure seclusion and silence.
i would keep my journal there
far from nosy intruders.
i would seek refuge from pesky
brothers and sisters
and parents that "just don't understand."
it was the ideal spot
for daydreaming, peace-seeking, growing up.

and now i have a weeping willow
in my backyard.
it is just as charming as i always imagined.
it's the spot for
book reading, painting, kicking balls, and snacks.
it's our spot for together.
and hopefully that romantic weeping willow
won't just be a dream,
but at least a little memory
for them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


with picnic basket ret to go,
destination yet unknown
we were off for an afternoon.
with maps in hand
and tomtom to guide us safely there
the road below us led back to
been there, done that,
but again--
perfectly content to return.

with a picnic spot on the river,

hundred-year-old trees
that can star in any photograph

a storybook chateau
staring down at its own reflection

and then a canoe ride
for a little romantic adventure

with its lilypads and frogs

and its tranquil green waters

and all the activity
drawing to a close
at just the right time of the evening
to catch that spectacular light
and even a rainbow
that illuminated the countryside
with warm hues
as the winding roads
led us back home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


and after our dinner conversation
included a discussion about where Jesus lives,
it almost seemed fitting.

it was after they were tucked soundly
in their beds, though i knew
that the "friend" was missing.
i had hoped that maybe she would have forgotten,
because i had looked
and couldn't find him anywhere.
but when i heard that pitter-patter,
i knew she had remembered.
and then i remembered.
he was left outside under the big tree.
i promised to return soon
and set outside with a flashlight.
i got no further than a few steps
onto the veranda when i was stopped,
staring upward, stunned at the heavens above me.
how black the expanse,
how intimidating the limitlessness of them,
how bright the milky way,
like a white stripe painted across it all.
and then the meteors began--
with their long bright tails
that trailed behind them for seconds--
like i've never seen before.

and as i tore myself away to retrieve
the lost friend
among the crickets and the barking dog
and the ee-yaw of the donkey,
i wallowed in awe and then disappointment
that i had to witness the wonder alone;
that they had already gone to bed.

but as i crept back upstairs with the friend,
i found her sitting on milla's bed,
with milla fast asleep.
when i asked her what she was doing,
she said,i want to show you something,
and she led me down the hallway to my bedroom,
where the window was wide open.
and as she walked over to it,
i knew already i was not the only one
to witness the wonder.
she pointed up to the sky
with her little finger
and i crouched down beside her
to stare at them again
and to wallow in the thrill of discovery
and amazement all over again.

здорово? i asked.
and we kept on staring.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

les fleurs

ah, yes
and another thing
the french take quite seriously. . .
les fleurs.

our garden may not compete
with the best of them around,
but a handful of the fresh wildflowers
that paint the countryside
certainly looks dazzling
atop our dining room table.

Monday, August 10, 2009

fun things

with the
attitude that seems to
dominate our planning style,
we have come to adopt
the phrase "fun things"
to describe our destination
at about any given moment.
in this way we avoid
burned-down disneylands
whenever our plan a's
don't work out--
tickets sold out,
closed for lunch,
not what we expected, etc.
and when that occurs
we can quickly and tearlessly
just move on to the next
"fun thing"
because nobody knew
what plan a fun thing was anyway.
it works.

and we were all happy to see
that the horse ranch
down the street
beautifully catered to our plan a
and offered us
two obliging and faithful ponies
to take for a walk down the river
and let our little equestrians
revel in much more
than gorky park
has ever been able to offer.