Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ah...la Normandie!

In the meantime, as you were in Dallas Texas, S1, and S3 was at home in Praha, I made a quick getaway with the parents to La Belle Normandie. As ever, when I reach that place, my worries wash away with the water streaming under the house. The trees speak to me in soothing ways. It takes a couple of days though. The oxygen that hits you is quite amazing. I slept so deeply. I was about to walk out when it began to rain, so I waited, but then the sun came out so shiny, and it was bliss: there were glittery rivulets running down the hill and I followed them, watching the clouds they reflected. I am amazed to find that I can walk the same trajectory in the same landscape time and time again and always the experience is utterly different.

I also read a good book, one of our mother's, who was reading it for her bookclub: The Dig, by John Preston. Although Mama tried at several occasions to tell me the whole plot instantly, claiming it wouldn't in the least change my reading experience, I did manage to read it for myself and did manage to have some surprises.

‘The Dig’ is a lovely story about an archaeological dig of some mounds of earth that took place at the end of the 1930s in Suffolk. It is easy to read. The characters are all there, there is space between the words, that space filled with humanity, and reality and disappointments and clarity. It is a series of accounts of events, by the various protagonists, all from their respective vantage points. They relate their part in a historical find, against which their lives stand out in all their ‘normality’. At one point two of the characters explain their interest in both archaeology and photography as coming from a desire to catch glimpses of the fleeting lives that are passing by like the ghost-like figures on an old photograph of a Victorian street. In the book, the characters themselves become that material. Somehow this little gem of a book manages to touch you that way, and you are left with a tremendous sense of being just a fleck of dust on a windscreen about to be wiped away. It is uncomplicated and kind. I am grateful to the writer for this. You will enjoy reading this. It also has a sense of the earth imbued in it. The dig is as much about us, the reader, excavating and examining the air around the people doing the digging, as it is about the actual, literal dig, and then if you are not careful, by association, it comes full circle to be about the reader and the air around them. As such the book is very clever. Throughout the story you glean the backdrop of the immanence of war, and several other stories which are never fully expressed. Just like real life.

For the rest we had really good food as always and our father filled us in on some disturbing facts about post-war Europe that I didn't yet know. It makes you think, about the stories we are told and the stories we are not told. We also watched You Me and Everyone We Know and enjoyed it!

I also listened to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle on my handy walking-and-listening device. I am not sure if it helps me get more in the present, but his voice is soothing just like the trees. It is telling that I sent the book to my friend M. in New York who simultaneously sent me another book by the same author. I think it's a sign. Of what I don't know yet! Our friendship, already, for sure. The funny thing, is that, after listening to about 18 hours of the book, mother listened for 5 minutes on the journey back. Then she handed it back to me. "I know all that already" she said. True to form.

Otherwise, I am currently back at home devising ways to sort through my paperwork, and am trudging through leftovers from the past. Each bit of paper I throw away I feel lighter, much lighter. It is a question of giving everything its rightful place. And some things just have their rightful place in the dustbin. It is a question of sorting...
In the mounds, however, there are also treasures: I found some nice photos of you both, which didn't end up in the dustbin. I did decide, however, that some of the unsent loveletters I found would not lose any of their precious intensity by being torn up and thrown away.
Love, and be well,


alejna said...


This is a cool idea, to have the three of you share a blog like this. What a great way to keep in touch, and keep a record.

I believe that one of you has signed up for Neil's "Great Interview Experiment." If so, I was the next commenter on the list, meaning that I've been assigned to you. (You guys seem to avoid using your names on this site, so I'll leave off the name, too. But it starts with a C.)

I look forward to meeting you. Can you come by my site and say "hi"?

Anonymous said...

This sounds lovely! Where In Normandie did you go? I'm looking for a little holiday escape from Paris..


Anonymous said...

Hello Francine,
Our little hideaway is very exclusive! The area is called Pays de Bray. Not by the sea, but more inland: in a part of Normandy that has rolling hills. There should be places you can rent out for short periods. If you have a car you can reach the Pays de Bray in about two hours from Paris. Or take a train to Rouen (one hour and 20 mins) and rent a car from there. Bon repos!

Anonymous said...

C'est super gentil, merci! I've already been to Pays de Bray a few times but this makes me want to go again. Too bad your spot is exclusive - it sounds so idyllic!