Monday, July 14, 2014

Le quatorze Juillet

Today I’m celebrating all things French (though lunch was at a favorite Italian place).

I do keep fancifully imagining that our family comes from a dynasty of Calvados-makers in Normandy (Coquerel), living among the apple-orchards, walking to market along the Seine past Giverny, past Bonnard’s Vernonnet, past all the landscapes of the French Impressionists, so exquisitely color-drenched.  So I feel as if I am a sort of citoyenne, at least an honorary one—my heart in the right place (if on the left bank).

Some of my favorite summer reading has been Marguerite Duras’s Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia, The Sailor from Gibraltar.  And then Jean Giono’s pastoral Pan trilogy, set in Provence, in a wonderful edition with full-color illustrations, borrowed from the Stanford library and kept for several years on my shelves.  And now, a French translation, The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles.  I’ve been thinking of the book- and print-sellers in Paris, and their ever-tempting stalls, and how I’d love to wander there, and after, find that perfect simple café near the Bastille and what I am surely wrongly remembering as being called the site of d’Artagnan’s stable—worn gray stone, an inner courtyard and an arch.

And too, I’ve been remembering a summer visiting in Santa Fe, when I read Colette and sat in the shade with my father pitting tiny cherries from the trees behind the patio back by the clothesline, so my mother could make tart.  I walked up Canyon Road later to one of many galleries with wooden floors, to see the photographs of André Kertész, photographs of Paris, adding to my nostalgia for France.  My feeling that I was, in some strange way, practically there.

image:  Gaston de Latouche, L’Intrigue Nocturne


  1. funny. i am drawn in that same strange way to london and the english countryside ... the villages ... the history ...
    and all things english.
    my great great grandfather was captain of one of the tall ships.
    i honestly thing things like your france and paris and my own connection is felt generations later. as a knowing longing to return perhaps. or just to saturate ourselves the best we can ... if we cannot be there for good.
    lovely post.
    but then... they always are with you!

  2. Thank you as always, dear Tammy J. I agree that love of places is somehow in our bones and blood, or our collective memory. I'm drawn too to England, which is more verifiably part of my heritage. But also to Italy and Greece, to which I surely have no claim whatsoever—except an adventuring Cockerel who passed Byron on his way to Sounion, sailing the Aegean!