Friday, 30 March 2012

The end of the week.

I wanted the end of this week to be done. Wanted to pack it tissue paper, like old-fashioned layette, all folded at the corners and the scent of clean things. I wanted to be gentle with the end of the week. Wanted to wrap it up in brown paper, bind it up with string and hot red sealing wax, slightly melted at the edges. I wanted to send the end of the week to a desert island, let it sit alone on an empty beach and whisper to the waves, and the old blue whales. I wanted to meet it later, so much later, when time would lead to laughter and a sense of understanding, when we could have a drink, knock our glasses together and say we were old friends. Old friends. Instead the end of week and I stand, two soldiers on a no-mans land, facing each other, staring blindly, legs wavering, half-smiling. We are waiting for the weekend, almost ready to shake hands, we are waiting for the weekend, tomorrow.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

the first days of spring

In the first days of Spring, I make a bouquet of flowers for a friend. Take a broad brush, mix inks and water; strokes of blended color mingle on paper.


In these first days, I take many trains and, despite suitcase carrying and workshop running, cannot resist pausing to stop for just a while, just a little while, a tiny perfect while, to photograph pink cherry blossom. Endless blooms drip from winter branches. Trees yawn against an aquamarine sky. I dream, fall into the beauty.


 In the first days of Spring, I wash in hotel bathrooms, admire green tiles and consider how water unpeels travelling days. 


In these days, I wonder about the necessity of play, a need to spin in serendipity. I weigh possibilities and measure the spring, which seems to be disguised as summer. Breathing through change as seasons unfurl, the earth turns as I walk on.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Lunch à la francaise : le déjeuner, not breakfast as lunch

Last week, we had a long French restaurant lunch; dawdled as we ate leek and herrings in aspic, a gratinée of cod, artichokes and spring legumes. Thought about it afterwards, the cultural codes of food, what is circumscribed when you eat. The English pile it on one plate, the Spanish spread over several platters, the Dutch snack constantly. Lunch in France is a serious matter. There are rules to abide by, food to eat. This is not breakfast as lunch. A French restaurant lunch has an intricate, restrictive composition. Reflected in other aspects of the culture, this Platonic configuration, when I arrived here many years ago, provoked a longing for orangeade and crisps for breakfast, soap operas, ripped jeans and a general desire for disorder.

At lunchtime, one rarely considers speed or flexibility. Le déjeuner is le déjeuner; nothing more and nothing less. It makes me think of Gertrude Stein, a rose is a rose is a rose.

There is a comfort in the chink of glass, the slurp of wine. Bread and water are provided, free of charge.

The meal is split into a ballet of five or six scenes, which may be adjusted but only slightly : l'apéritif (pre-food drink), l'entrée (the starter), le plat (the main course), le fromage ( an optional cheese course), le désert (dessert) et le café (the coffee).

Sat in the bustle, the eater follows the pre-conceived structure, relishing in the knowledge of what is known. Vegetarians and food allergies are rarely considered.  A model, an established order, which can encompass but is challenged by those who deviate. And yet, food, wine, lovely conversation, in a country that Henry Miller described as 'a playground'  for the stranger; completed by the sweetened full-stop.

Monday, 12 March 2012

March coffee in the fog: the function of le café

March seems to whizz by. Days tripping neatly into each other, meetings jostle for space amongst wiped noses, revised texts and daffodils. Nevertheless, the spring is still on standby. Today, it is foggy. Sea mist stretches from ground to sky, we walk through clouds of grey candy floss, granite cotton candy. I drink coffee on a terrace, sip le petit noir, l'expresso, le café. In France, this is the drink that is sampled upon arrival at work, at the start of a meeting and the end of a meal. Le petit noir can be drunk on a terrace with friends but it is never ever ever served with milk ( then it would become un crème, which has a very different function). L'expresso is simple, understated, small and precise. It is a jewel, a drop of liquor, a sweetened full stop.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Last friday night

Friday night was for sitting on the sofa with daughters. I wrote, they sat; cushions on laps, grey and soft. The cat stretched on the cushions, licking his fur. The kids were engrossed in the TV screen. Curls fell onto peachy skin. Inside the black stove, brown logs burnt red. I went to the kitchen, found macaroni cheese. Spilt the contents and heated up food. That was the order of things that evening: Gentle. Warm Fire. End of Week. Stroking Fur.