Saturday, June 29, 2013

Love Letter

The Ellé River
This will be short and sentimental. Something that lets me be glad, makes me feel lucky. The moments that gleam, that appear unbidden, the secret life of glee. I've just sent off my first article about medieval art in Brittany, and I'm thinking about it in triptych form, and every part of that triptych (the setting, the scholarly apparatus, the art) holds these moments fast. This is a little ridiculous, I think, this kind of exuberance for an article (for crying out loud). Good luck with my emotions if I should ever write a book. I lived and breathed these ideas and the people that nurtured them in so many ways, though, that I want to write them a love letter. I loved coffee in the morning at the mill, and long conversations with my beautiful hosts, and threading my way through the Breton countryside and those awesome roundabouts, and coming to this river after following the path set by the chapel's fountain, and talking about hunting boar with a local aristocrat at a dinner party, and waking up very far away from anywhere else, and knowing Mac and the kids had been here and here and here and that next time I would show them this and this and this.

I loved finding out (uselessly, it turned out) about late medieval crenellation licenses in Brittany, and laughing at de Guilhermy in 1845 quoting Balzac by writing "Donc, à nous deux, jubé de Saint-Fiacre," and ordering books about woodworking, and going to the U.S. Geological Survey page about springs, and writing conference talks that wove in and out of this, and loving conference talks and that kind of writing and talking and thinking, and marveling at how crippling academic writing still is for me and how much I'm still looking for a way to credit all the scholarship and engage in all the issues and somehow preserve the freedom and the play that the conferences revel in, and the asides as we gather around coffee at said conferences, and dancing while frogs just wouldn't stop having sex after we had all spoken at one said conference.

Et maintenant, jubé de Saint-Fiacre, à nous deux. This is a work of art that takes some serious girding of the loins. But I love your complacent angels, and your devious but ultimately martyred fox (that hen is grabbing his testicles in its beak!), your frightened Mary, and your writhing thieves, your medieval wood injected with resin and silicone and restored in multiple ways, your artist (knighted!) who signed his name, merci mon sieur Olivier Le Loergan, your biniou and bombarde players, your Mass of Saint-Gregory, your glutton barfing a fox, your goose and your duck and your oak leaves and beech leaves and your custodian who knit half a sweater while telling me all about everything.  And now I'm getting ready to go on a road trip to a dinner party in Cincinnati and for now, in this, with you, everything is possible.