Monday, August 2, 2010

Week 10: Moon Over a Medieval Village

I have often spoken of the pleasure received from views out the window of our upstairs apartment. It is one I indulge myself in both day and night. Recently, after lights were extinguished, I was on my way to our room when I glanced out the window and noticed a full golden moon floating in the night sky. Across was Anne's room still alight and next to her an attic room aglow. I had imagined that space to be uninhabited. I've never seen light there before this summer, and then only a few times. It's a complete mystery to me who it could be up there, as I know the other people in the building and no new folks have been seen on the place. The shutters were half closed, creating an L of light. The view was magical; breathtaking, still and timeless.


What a tremendous bustle is going on in town! Our medieval fete begins next week. Samuel and his wife Celine have been out in front of the house measuring for stalls and stands and the castle made of bales of straw which will all be erected in front of the house during the course of the coming week. The big days are next weekend, when 3000 people will flood into our village and enjoy reenactments, burlesque medieval theater, demonstrations, food, (including a huge feast on rows of endless tables), crafts, games for children and finally, and most spectacularly, a huge fireworks display. Each year Samuel thinks of something new to outdo himself. This year it's the addition of an entire week of pre-fete activities, classes and demonstrations. Atelier Conti will be contributing a course in gravure which actually was invented in the middle ages. Knights liked to inscribe decorations on their armor so they engraved the metal with images. Someone came up with the bright idea to rub some ink, or dirt into the grooves and transfer the results onto paper. Voila! Etching was born. Of course the printing press was invented in 1440, so also a medieval development

Gilles, the village groundskeeper, often fills the early morning air with his cheery whistling. This week he has been particularly active making sure all the flower beds are perfectly groomed and with the help of a small crew, including the mayor, hanging flags from every corner, including our window ledges. Here I am at the rose room window after the installation. 


Martine is back in town. The only way we know is that one afternoon this week the doorbell rang and there she was with a bowl of strawberries in her hands. She passed them through to us and demanded "Be sure to eat these within the next ten minutes. I've just picked them!" She ran off, not even waiting for us to give her back her bowl. Perhaps she had her own bowl to consume within the time limit. Talk about fresh from the garden! We followed her admonition without hesitation.

On the subject of fruit, lately when we take our walk through the woods, we have to step over and through bucket-loads of little yellow mirabelles (tiny plums). There are several wild trees at the trail head and no one seems to collect the fruit. The trees are overly generous and their fruit is tasty but more pit than flesh.


We treated ourselves to another grandparent vacation this week, visiting Quinn and family in Paris and helping to install a new dishwasher. I have always admired Parisians for depending so little upon the modern conveniences that we in the U.S. consider almost essential. It may seem strange to label my own daughter a Parisian, but she has lived there for over ten years, and just as many others in the city,  has done without either a dishwasher or clothes dryer for all that time. Everyone gets by without garbage disposals, they simply are unheard of here. The addition of the dishwasher to Emily's life requires a complete kitchen rearrangement. So Mr. Bricolage to the rescue. Rick always answers the call.

While in Paris, we took a day trip to Fontainebleau where there is a stunning royal castle. I personally much prefer it to Versailles. It has a bit more taste and warmth, even if you can't really call a vast extravagance like that "cozy", still it is beautifully decorated, and not just with gold and crystal, but with delicate paintings and gorgeous fabrics. I love how, on the castle grounds, the meticulously manicured trees stand like little soldiers on the perfectly trimmed vast lawn.

Quinn had the opportunity to ride on a merry-go-round for the first time, as there is one just across the street from the castle. It is a beautiful old double-decked affair and Quinn much approved everything about it. Three rides later we were finally able to coax him off.

Jos' birthday is coming up next week and his sister requested an image of Emily and Quinn which she could put on a sweatshirt for Jos. I did the portrait honors in their little garden. I thought it turned out beautifully.

Jos is an actor and director, and he works with a lot of very interesting people who we often get to meet. He invited us to the Cité de la Musique where he was meeting some of his Austrian clown friends who were there for a show. In front of the cafe is a vast place with a huge fountain in the middle, where 10 iron lions spew out gallons of water through their mouths, which tumbles into a huge basin. It makes a mighty roar. Quinn, with his hands characteristically behind his back, resting palms outwards on his little derriere, walked the entire space. There must be an acre of paving stones, with people playing, dogs romping, bikers, skaters and strollers everywhere around. He took it all in with his Nana in tow. It was an exquisitely pleasant afternoon, ending with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants on the place, where Quinn got his first piano lesson.


  1. Comme toujours tes petits billets enchantent mon lundi matin Nancy. Je m'invente des histoires (comme tu dois le faire, je suppose), avec la maison à la lucarne éclairée ! Puis-je utiliser ta photo pour une proposition d'écriture avec mes amis ? Nous avons créé un "fil rouge estival". Quinn est magnifique, quel beau petit garçon joyeux et plein de vie, je comprends que tu sois fan de lui.

  2. Forgot to greet the new "châtelaine" at her window !

  3. You know what a moonaholic I the photo and I have to tell you...your home looks so inviting and magical. I love the shutters, the ivy and the tall very .....French! Are you telling me that if I ever come to visit the weekend of Aug 7 is a good time ;-)
    Have a wonderful time at the festival and take plenty of photos...we expect a report.
    Janet xox
    PS...Quinn is adorable!