Thursday, August 14, 2014

Return to Paris

Walked another series of familiar walks today - wanted to see moss and rivulets and trees and watch the kids remember, too. They've developed our favorite park quite a bit: the pétanque rectangle where the kids used to play Charging Knights now has a playground in it; the old tree that we used to say housed some gruff spirit of the forest now has a panel next to it with buttons you can push (for French or English) that makes it talk and tell you its tale of being an oak long before this was a park (and yes, he's kind of gruff about it). This little place continues to grow and shift. The town is now transitioning from its summer tourism to getting ready for the Pardon on September 8. The community web page for it is rather understated, but the event usually draws around 20,000 people and this year promises to be just as grand. Our dear friend is the choir director and we're plotting making it there just for the day as the music alone will be spectacular. It would be pretty tremendous for both of our work: Mac because he teaches Jules Breton (scroll down Breton's page for his spectacular painting Le Pardon à Kergoat, which is in Quimper) and me because it's a ritual that's been going on since 808 (or so the legend of the finding of the statue of Mary in brambles goes - it's definitely been happening for hundreds of years). Pardons are fascinating for so many reasons (penance, love of Mary, music), including their interweaving in the landscape. We'll be getting a version of this tomorrow as we head to Chartres to witness and record the Assumption Day procession (really looking forward to being "out here" with you tomorrow night!).

Assumption Day (the day upon which Mary was assumed up into heaven by angels) is a "jour férié" - a national holiday. Trains, buses, businesses - many things will be on an altered schedule and many people will make a "pont," a bridge to a three-day week-end because it falls on Friday this year. It already started altering things in Brittany and the bus I thought we could take from Josselin to Rennes to catch our train was listed in the fine print as not running just on August 14 - the only day it didn't run, I try to take it. Thankfully, David in his generous good humor, got us to our train and I watched the kids go in and out of their thoughts of Brittany and Paris. Whatever thoughts you have, when you take the plunge back into the city, there you are. It's an enormous social contract, a city of 2.2 million people - and I'm trying follow and thinking a lot of the breakdown of it all in Ferguson, MO. The French news has quite a bit on it (more than CNN which is just weird) and is reporting it according to facts known, all of which are horrid. The peace of Brittany, the bustle of Paris, the distance of the States - it's a series of irreconcilables that a train ride can let you jostle together for a while. The kids read, talked, and we all ate delicious sandwiches from David. Then the train arrived, they hopped off, grabbed their Metro passes and put on their Metro faces and home we went. And it felt like home, turning the last key in the lock and opening the door. And it takes going away and being overwhelmed to realize that we're creating one here.

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