It all started in Paris.
It was my second (of three) time(s) there, at about this time of year. Cold, rainy, grey, wet. But still Paris. And there was one unmistakeable thing that stood out, that kept hitting me in the face over and over.
Paris has a smell.
It’s a perfume, a sweet delicious scent wafting gently from impeccably-clad Parisian women on the Metro, on the street, a subtle hint here and there. And it was all the same, all the same scent. The scent of Paris.
I wanted to take it home with me, to have to savor in odd moments, to bring me back to the clusters of crunchy baguette sandwiches cheaply available at any patisserie to consume while strolling down the sidewalk while looking at the gorgeous produce displayed in stalls lining the streets of the Latin Quarter. Or to bring me back to the buttery sweet soft-crisp-crunch of the Mardi Gras crepes available for just one day each year in any chocolaterie.
So I went into a department store. Not just any department store, but the Galeries Lafayette. If they didn’t have the scent of Paris, no one would.
I went straight to the perfume counter and set to work smelling every bottle. It had to be there somewhere. Every woman in Paris owned this scent, drifted it across the waiting nostrils of sentimental Americans at every opportunity; surely it would be here.
And it was. I had it wrapped up securely and I brought it home tenderly. The scent of Paris.
And I wore that scent for a couple of years. I sprayed it in my bedroom from time to time, and on the bed. I wanted to sleep in Paris, and breathe it in. Then a subsequent pregnancy caused me to swear off any scent at all lest I lose what little lunch I was consuming. And the scent of Paris lay fallow.
Until this past Saturday, when I glanced at my dresser, fairly bare except for a few unused bottles of scent and other paraphernelia, and remembered Paris.
It was time to have Paris again.
I sprayed one tiny spritz in the room, misting an invisible wearer who would walk through the bare mist, allowing only a modest amount to cling. Then I went downstairs.
A few minutes later I was seized with disgust. Serena was having a shower and must have been using an entire bottle of shampoo! How perfumey! How wasteful! I’d better go up and check.
Upstairs, the scent was stronger making a left turn instead of a right. A right turn was where Serena hadn’t even made it into the shower yet, whereas a left turn was…my bedroom. I walked in and nearly choked. The scent was unbearable. How did I ever think this smelled good?? And ohmygod how did it ever get so strong? How was I going to even sleep in the room?
I opened a window despite the frigid temperatures. I’d rather freeze to death anyway than asphyxiate.
Had to close the window before too long, and it did little good anyway. WHAT WAS I THINKING??
I guess I’m a little more sensitive than I used to be, because no one else noticed a thing.
Paris is going in the trash anyway.
It’s been (pronounced “bean,” sort of) brought to my attention recently that I may have treated an entire country too harshly. Yes, I have dissed the whole nation of Canada. That vast blank pink space vaguely located “up” from where I live. That one.
I must make amends.
I also have to rectify a slight error I made in recounting a conversation Matthew and I had about Niagara Falls. He didn’t actually say “woo,” and this error causes me to prostrate myself with humble grief and perhaps some chocolate. This is the actual conversation:
Me: (after approximately 1.45 minutes at the falls) Okay, I’ve seen it.
Matthew: Then please allow me to escort you inside, my lady, and show you proper respect and obeisance. And also maybe massage your feet.
Matthew: Shall I use my cloak to cover this small puddle so your oh-so-attractive-yet-somehow-overlarge sheeplike boots are not sullied with moisture?
Matthew: Allow me to whittle this wooden bench for the pleasure of placing your shapely backside upon it to rest your weariness from the short walk we have just undertaken. My apologies for my failure to carry you farther.
Me: Knock yourself out.
Matthew: Perhaps my lady would care to enjoy the earth emanations arising from the large quantity of water falling rapidly just outside this humble palacelike arcade by placing her shapeliness upon said bench? Oh, and watch for splinters.
So I’ve been vacationing in Ontario, Canada’s Vast Frozen Vacation Wonderland, for the past few days. Actually, Matthew and I drove up to the Niagara area to see an old friend of his there.
Yes, we saw Niagara Falls. Hey! That’s a lot of water! And it was really really cold! Good thing my camera either froze or melted, I forget which, because after a minute and a half and one photo we went back inside. A lot of water! And not very many tourists! But inside was warmer. And had benches.
Matthew: Hey, I can feel the falls from here! Through my butt! Woo!
Me: Me too! Let’s just stay here!
Oh, and the Niagara region is full of little wineries, and you can drive down the river from the falls and stop at the zillions of wineries along the way. It’s quite beautiful, and feels a lot like France where you can drive and drive and stop at every freaking little winery through a whole region and spend hours doing this. Many of the Niagara wineries sell ice wine, which I really like. But virtually all of the wineries were closed for the season and we had to content ourselves with the enticing little road signs every few feet announcing yet another delectable winery filled with [unattainable] delectable wine.Â Fun!
Oh! And we stayed in a very nice restored mansion where they let people sleep and all and throw breakfasts the size of Rhode Island at them in the morning. It was quite nice having people bring us coffee and fruit and croissants. And stuff. The only problem was that apparently the place was built in the Stone Age or something (or 1800′s, maybe), and completely lacked wireless anything.
So we had to compete to plug our respective laptops into the one cord-thingy attached inconveniently to an actual wall.
Mostly we thumbwrestled for this honor and I used my power of the Reproachful Glance and once we decided to naked mudwrestle for it but got distracted when the sunken tub was finally full of mud. After all, who cares about the interweb when you’ve got real, actual mud?
Oh, and you know what else they have there in Ontario’s Frozen Winter Wonderland? Bowling! Woo! So we went bowling. Except some pins were missing and the balls were tiny and lacked holes. Weird! And I almost won, and I could have won, but it seemed like a better idea to come in last, so I did that. Here’s how you play:
My Body: Oooo! Exercise!
Me: What do mean, “exercise”? This is “5-pin bowling”!!
My Body: Feels like bending and stretching to me.
Me: So what? It’s not exercise, trust me.
My Body: Ha! You’ll feel this tomorrow! [snickers]
Me: Then the least you could do is stop dropping the damn ball early. Can’t you handle a 5-lb ball? See those pins? The ball is supposed to actually hit them and make them fall!
My Body: I CAN’T HEAR YOUUUUUU! LALALALALA!
[tags]green, point roberts washington, vacation, forest[/tags]
[tags]point roberts washington, beach, driftwood, wood, vacation[/tags]
No, it’s nothing to do with the rain. The rain, actually, is quite nice. Though rain + wind + beach = a short walk.
Speaking of beach and walk, I must take my leave to do so now. Though I will be thinking of you, dear internets!
This post title has actually been sitting in my queue, mocking me, since August. Originally it was the title of a post that was going to tell all about my trip to Colorado, but that was eons ago, lifetimes ago, so I am repurposing it, being the thrifty little environmentally-correct blogger that I am.
But first I should tell you how the title came up, I think.
A few days before our trip to Colorado, Matthew acquired a Blackberry (you see where this is going already, don’t you?), and during those six days, still being quite enthralled with it, he couldn’t help but crow over the fact that he had cell service everywhere, even atop Pike’s Peak, when I was constantly gnashing my teeth over my useless T-Mobile Razr.
So now you know. Was it worth the wait?
This morning the clouds parted, and, lo! The sun! Behold the sky! So I was compelled to go for another run and later, a walk down the the beach. In all that rain yesterday, did that walk become steeper somehow? Why yes, I believe it did.
Wee white cords leaking out of my ears and filling my head with the sound of Ants Marching, I tramped down the steepage toward the beach, brushing aside the occasional brambly vine that snaked out to snag my sleeve. Some sort of berry vine, maybe. Look at those thorns! March, march, slide slowly down the slippery wet-leaved slope toward the beach.
I strode from one end of the beach to the other, unplugging my iPod from my head and listening to the waves instead, lapping/crashing up the rocky beach strewn with huge eroded logs, rounded smooth stones, snakelike seaweed as big around as Eric’s arms and twice as long as he is tall, and so many shells in their completeness I quickly abandoned taking home more than a few for the children. I balanced atop long smooth logs, walking their length like a tightrope, wetting my Saucony-clad shoe only a little in the cold water. You could see across the bay to the mainland, trees and amid them tall white stacks belching particulates.
I came back to where the path went back up to the foresty treeness and there sat a man, his face turned westward to the lowering sun, his eyes closed. He wasn’t there to see the water, he was there for the sun.
As I moved away from the beach and began the path up, up, and up, I glanced at the bushes lining the path. Same thorns, watch out! But…wait…these look familiar. Blackberries! With several still on the vines, mostly dried and way past their season, but…here…and here…and here. I picked some and ate them.
As I reached in through the brambly vines I remembered the first time I picked blackberries. I had elected to remain at college and just sort of hang out there for the summer, the summer after spring break. It was really quiet since most people had homes to go to, or jobs maybe. Me, I took the bus to the store once a week and bought a box of crackers and some peanut butter and took long, long walks, coming back to my empty double room in which I had pushed the two twin beds together to make one large bed where I slept, mostly alone, enjoying the silence and the fact that I didn’t have a roommate.
In one of those walks I discovered the Blackberry Bushes.
I don’t think many of the people staying over for the summer knew about these, because there were tons of berries hanging heavily from the brambly vines, huge ones, the biggest blackberries I have yet to see before or since. They were delicious, and for a few weeks I went every day until the picking became harder as people found them and the season progressed. It was the single best thing about my entire college experience, most of the rest of which was a blur of discomfort, an ill-fitting shoe quickly discarded.
I reflected a little on this as I continued walking up the hill, now noticing how obviously present the blackberry bushes were that lined the path, marveling at my chosen blindness to things that are right in front of me as I navigate this path of life. I am such a warrior sometimes, choosing a direction and then settng an unveering course, blasting over and through obstacles, blind to the tiny moments of now-ness. My most vivid picture-memory of Paris is from my first trip there, a picture of the cobblestones, the uneven stones over which it was my job to navigate Nathaniel’s stroller, and so fixed on that was I that I missed the buildings, and the people, that lined those cobblestoned streets. There is no memory of faces, only cold stones.
I picked a handful of blackberries for Matthew, who will appreciate their past-season sweetness, and clutched that handful, along with a cluster of wee pinecones from an alder tree like the one decorating the front yard of the house I grew up in, all the way up the (now much much steeper) hill.
At the top I paused and stood in the sun for awhile, still holding my tiny handful of blackberries, and reflected on the gifts the sun brings us, warming me and having once provided food for the berries I now held in my hand, and ever mindful itself of the gifts WE bring to it, the sun.
I walked back to my little cabin, taking a different path this time.
Otherwise I think people here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest would find it, I don’t know,
depressing way too exciting that it rains so much. Until today, there were periods every day I have been here when the rain stopped, often for hours at a time, and yesterday I even saw the sun! And wished for my sunglasses! But like the one (1) local resident with whom I have become known to on a first-name basis said, this is the kind of weather that makes one want to curl up in front of a fire with a glass of wine. Actually, he said “bottle”, but that seems a bit much for one person, especially when that person is a very cheap and infrequent drunk like me. One glass would be sufficient.
Yesterday I met the lovely Redsy with whom I have much in common and with whom I would certainly grow easily to be wonderful real-life friends if we were more proximal. And her adorable children entertained me and I them. And there was Thai food involved, always a winner. I could totally swim in a vat of that soup, by the way. There is no Thai food to speak of in Pennsylvania. You could speak of it, actually, but why bother when you just know before you begin that it won’t taste good?
I haven’t actually yet divulged my location, have I? I am technically in Washington State but if anybody was thinking, they’d have made this Canada. I just love crossing the border in order to go anywhere! Sometimes the border guards clearly don’t have much to do. And they are all very interested in why I would choose this location of all places in which to have a vacation. There. Go ahead and get out your maps and atlases and figure it out. And if you’re not too late you can come visit me before I leave again.
Yes, it’s the phrase that strikes fear in the hearts of Cat People everywhere: “litter box indiscretions.”
Yesterday afternoon Shadow (the black one) started crouching in various spots throughout the house as if he was going to pee there. When shooed away, he’d hunker down, upend himself, and vehemently begin licking his balls. A curious approach from Nacho (the black one)(“Hey! Whatcha lickin’? Can I have some? Can I at least smell it? That looks good!”) elicited growls and hissing. Not a good sign.
Later, on my bed, Shadow (the black one) lay on one side with his leg up in the air, looking uncomfortable. A glance from uncorrected eyes revealed what looked like a sausage emerging from between his butt cheeks. Not a pretty sight at 1 am.
Shadow spent the night in the garage.
Needless to say, rather than risk repeat of ass corkage, Shadow paid a visit to the vet today who poked, prodded, and palpated him in various undignified places with a gloved finger.
Tentative diagnosis: urinary infection, sausage notwithstanding.
Now both cats are eating expensive prescription food and Shadow (the black one) received a $100 injection of something expensive and probably ineffective.
Plus I have the enviable task of performing extensive litter box reconnaissance to determine who is peeing and how much.
In other news, I’m making preparations (i.e. thinking about what to pack) for another trip to Vancouver next week, having purchased airline tickets lo these many months ago. I’m looking forward to being in the forest right by the beach and doing a LOT of writing. More on that later. Plus I get to meet someone I’ve been wanting to meet for awhile now, having missed my opportunity in Chicago last July and another opportunity in June.
Tomorrow I meet with the reading specialist at Serena’s school and get to convince her that Serena is able to learn to read without their help, thank you. However, the paper she brought home on Christopher Columbus rather belies my point (hello! yes, you’re supposed to read the words on the page! it makes it easier to answer the questions!).
Nathaniel is morose today. Only seven more years of this to go.
Eric found the container of 100 small blocks that I was using to teach Serena about multiplying by 10′s and has dispersed them all over the house. Now he’s demanding reading.
Bedtime’s in another hour. Serena is running a constant narration of the copious research she is doing on various elements of cats in a book, interviewing the different types of cats and recording her findings. Nathaniel is singing and making sound effects while he does math. Eric is grinding his teeth as he flips the pages of a board book.
It has turned into a quiet evening: the wind picked up; it’s raining and there’s been distant thunder; the air coming in through the open windows is fresh and cool; all marking the change from this long Indian summer into autumn at last.
Oh! There’s a new post up at Springing Light about reconnecting to Self. You’ll want to have a look.
Tomorrow morning I get to wake before dawn to make my early-morning flight to Colorado. It’ll be six days in the state I lived in for a year, the state I moved from under duress a year ago, the state I figure no longer feels like home. I can look forward to six days of low humidity, hiking and wonderful connection with nature and the mountains, connecting with other spiritually-minded people, and well, connecting. Connecting.
Except with the internet. Six days without email will be…interesting. Though frankly I doubt I will miss it. No offense.
I’ll see you when I get back.
[tags] travel, flying, Colorado, Michael teachings[/tags]