Sunday, July 31, 2011

Once More to the Lake, S’il Vous Plait

A  path welcomes you to the little cabanon in the garden by the lake

“This would never work back home,” I said to Brad, waving my arm to indicate the acres and acres of family gardens lining our stroll down bike path at Lac Kir outside Dijon.  “At home this would have quickly been co-opted for condo development on the lake.”  It was a little jewel of a spot I had found last year when in Dijon.  I turned my bike off the main path and found this French Eden where generations of families had grown tomatoes and lettuce and small orchards.

On their quarter acres they had built cabanons (small huts) that they had outfitted with wood stoves and hammocks.  Children played while grandparents sat at tables under umbrellas talking and drinking their wine.  This was the Dijonnais version of a country manor, I guess, and it was only about two miles outside of town.  Give me this over a chateau any day.
Hollyhocks line garden fences
“Vacation,” in the ultimate sense, means “vacating” your life.  I love these long excursions we now can take because so much that seems so essential back home gets packed away in the back of the closet with my suitcase when we’re over here.  Yes, there’s the chance that my kids’ reports about everything at the house going great may be slightly exaggerated.  There will be piles of mail to sort and dying plants to revive and phone calls to make.

But when I’m away for longer periods there’s the chance to imagine (and experience) a different life.  Under the pressure of day-to-day busy-ness back home it’s so easy to assume that what is now is what will always be.  In Dijon, though, we seem to have little problem balancing work with a Sunday walk out to and around the lake.  We sit at the table after dinner and talk.  We make plans.  We literally stop and smell the flowers in the gardens along the path to the lake. 
A Dijonnais rides his bike on the bath between petite family orchards

When we return home we’ll have family and friends that need us, a house that demands attention, phone calls that add more things to our to-do list.  It’s always a challenge to maintain a French frame of mind in an American culture.  As I’ve gotten older, I feel it suits me better, though.  Multi-tasking holds less and less appeal.  However, by the time leaves fall in St. Louis, I feel the influence of France falling away, too.

“You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back,” travel writer Paul Theroux said.  Secretly I hope that I’m not coming all the way back.  With luck, each time I leave France I will leave a little of myself, like if I forget a pair of shoes, or a book, or a hairdryer.  In time, all of what defines me might be sitting, waiting, in a little cabanon under an apple tree by the lake.  Or maybe I’ll figure out how to create my French jardin out of my life at home.  It would be a development worth more than any luxury lakefront condo.
A swan lazing away an afternoon at Lac Kir, Dijon

What’s your favorite place to vacate your life?  Take us there in the comment box.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Snapshot of France

A whimsical window in an average village on a back road of France

It’s rained almost every day except two or three since I’ve been here.  I’ve had my wallet stolen in Paris.  It’s October weather in July.  We have unbearably boisterous Italian neighbors upstairs (how many live in that apartment?).  Brad’s laptop died on the first day.  My lost license means I’m not driving to the music festival I had been planning for since last summer.  The dollar-to-euro exchange is extremely painful.

When the time comes to leave, though, I’ll wish I could stay for one more day.

The rhythm of France, especially Dijon, has begun to feel as familiar as home.  It’s not the only place that calls to me.  Italy is still in my sights.  I haven’t seen the redwoods in California yet.  I could visit Nashville once a month for the rest of my life.  Yet I’ve come to love France, warts and all.

Last night we had our friends, Didier and Françoise, for dinner.  The conversation turned to the disappearance of local farmers who had filled the stalls at the market.  There is more suburban flight to where housing is cheaper and property larger.  Commercial centers (malls) create water run-off because the concrete prevents rain from sinking into the ground, just like in America.  Restaurants in town are catering more to the tastes of tourists.  “Progress” is changing the country.

Yet I bought all the organic produce that went into dinner’s vegetable mélange for about $1.50.  The bread we ate had been made while we slept the night before.  The chocolaty dessert we ate was perfection, not the over-sugared concoctions that pass for chocolate in America.  And we had all night to sit at the table and chat, even if tomorrow was a workday.  France’s appeal for me lies not in the overwhelming offerings of Paris, of the picture perfect chateaux, or the richness of the next boeuf Bourgogne.  I find my pleasure in the quotidian.

So for those who want to know what I see in this country, here are five random reasons I keep coming back:

1) All day, every day, people walk down the street with a bouquet of flowers cradled in one arm and a loaf of fresh bread in the other.  What else is there to say?

2) Shopping for food (which I usually hate) is a community affair.  Much of the town comes out for market day, trailing their shopping carts behind.  They shop.  They talk produce.  The butcher knows them. A vendor cuts an apricot in half and give it to me for free just to prove his fruits are the best.  People stop to chat with friends and neighbors.  Their dogs are enjoying the day out, too.  Then before they head home (with leeks and roses peeking out of the top of their carts), they stop at the café or brasserie or salon de thé for a taste of something and conversation.

Taking a break in Pl. François Rude, Dijon on a busy market morning
3) At the grocery store, where I stopped for some organic apricot nectar (something I’ll long for the rest of the year), I was behind a scraggly bleach blonde who looked like she hadn’t been to bed in three days and who was constantly tapping her foot, checking her phone, and muttering to herself as if whatever she had taken that morning hadn’t worn off yet.  However, she did not fail to greet the cashier with the typically enthusiastic bonjour of this country, and when she opened her backpack to pull out her wallet she also pulled out a copy of Aristotle’s Ethics.  This is a country that seems to still read.  Books.  In non-digital format.  People of all ages.  In the center city of Dijon I can pass at least four bookstores on an average day. 

4) Life continues in small towns and villages.  Take a day to travel the back roads instead of the autoroute and you’ll see villages strung out along an extensive bike path, people stopped for refreshment at a tiny café.  No matter the size of the town, there are still planters filled with red geraniums on any bridge that crosses a river, canal, or stream.  There are no abandoned cars and rusting trailers along the routes.  You’ll see posters for upcoming spectacs (entertainments of a wide variety) happening somewhere in the area.  I know they have their problems, but they still keep going.

5) When here I can settle into a pace that says there is time to get everything done.  I know part of the reason is because, to a large extent, I’ve left my life in St. Louis behind.  But France – with its cafés and flowers and back roads and walking everywhere and small apartments – slows time to a level of  human comprehension.  Every year I vow to maintain the rhythm of this life when I return home.  Each year I let it get eaten away by to-do lists, ringing phones, racing to the supermarket before dinner.  I get little writing done, fail to complete long-term projects, don’t take care of myself.  I forget to sit down for a tea break. Then I come to France and decompress within hours.  And vow to not lose this capacity to just chill when I return home.  Let’s see if I can keep that vow this time.

What is one of your favorite places to change perspectives on your life?  Give us a clue to what we’re missing in the comment box.
Even the dogs enjoy an afternoon of shopping in France

Monday, July 25, 2011

Down and Out in Paris*

*with apologies to George Orwell

Which one of these thieves is responsible for such knavery?

Yes, I was incredibly stupid.  Yes, I knew better.  Yes, fatigue and headache are lousy excuses for my momentary lapse of attention.  But how could I have expected any other result under those conditions riding the rush hour Metro in Paris.

I had to see the last Harry Potter movie.  I needed to be in on the opening week hoopla and Paris held the closest theater showing it in English.  Even better, it was near my much-loved Jardin du Luxembourg and this would finally give me an excuse to visit some of the Paris embroidery/needlework shops I had longed to tour leisurely on my own.  All only a 90-minute train ride away.  With rain definitely a prospect I transferred everything from my crossbody bag to the small sac à dos or backpack I had bought to protect my camera during the first week in rainy Dijon.  I slung it over my shoulders and headed off on my mission.

Paris is too large for me to live in or visit for long.  It takes effort I don’t want to apply too often to withstand the constant horn honking, the motorcycles roaring dangerously close to the sidewalk, the jostling at all pedestrian crossings, the smell of urine (dog and human) as you enter and leave each Metro stop.  If you pause in your stride down Boulevard Saint-Germain you are quickly flattened by the wave of humanity coming up behind you.  But it offers too much to completely abandon it.

By the time I escaped the lure of Le Bonheur des Dames and all the cross stitch bounty it offered, I had only a little over an hour to get from the right bank of the Seine near Gare de Lyon to my theater on the left bank near Jardin du Luxembourg.  Difficulties interpreting the Metro map and a ticking clock made me decide I could walk the distance faster.  On my small pocket map of Paris it really didn’t seem that far.  The longer I walked, however, the more persistent the day’s unseasonable rain became.  With each step I grew more tired, with a hint of a migraine coming on.  Along Blvd. Saint-Germain I passed the tourists and locals settling in for lunch at café after enticing café.  But I ignored them all because I had no time anymore to eat or even duck into a metro stop to see if I could figure out again my line and station.
Finally, with all of Paris café life and food tantalizing me just outside the door of the cinema, I slipped into my seat with a box of popcorn (yay! for the smell of popcorn in Paris) and bottle of water just as the movie started.  Certainly before I hit the train at seven that evening I’d have time for a bite of food and a bit of café time.

With Harry Potter behind me I headed back onto the streets and strolled through Paris up the hills of the 6th arrondissement to my garden.  Most of the town was there, chatting in the iconic Luxembourg chairs or walking the gravel paths.  On entering the gates, a full orchestra greeted me with the theme from the Pink Panther movies on the nearby bandstand.  Moments after settling in to listen to the music and contemplate the main fountain, the skies blackened again and the clouds quickly began spitting on me.  To avoid a potential downfall I hustled back toward the Seine, seeking refuge in the English-language bookstore Shakespeare & Co.
Most of Paris relaxing at Jardin du Luxembourg before the sky opens again
Even after just a few brief visits to Paris I could find my garden and my bookstore without even consulting a map.  There is such a feeling of triumph when I feel comfortable in a strange land.  My brain had even untangled itself from its morning muddle to figure out which line to take first to another needlework shop and then back to the train station where I could grab dinner before heading home. 

Simple.  Line  4 with a transfer to the Olympiades line would return me from the left bank back to the right bank of the river and the station.  My stomach started a serious conversation with me because I hadn’t eaten a meal since breakfast in Dijon and movie popcorn.  But a needlework shop I knew that sat at the transfer point of my two lines would only take a few extra minutes.  Then I’d eat.  I went down, down into the bowels of the Metro tunnels, with half of Paris pushing into the car with me.  We were the proverbial cattle as more humanity came on at each stop and none got off.  Eventually, when the doors opened those on the platform took one step forward but then didn’t even attempt to squeeze in.  In the steamy heat of the crowd all I could think was I was hungry, my feet were tired, and a headache was just around the corner.

At Les Halles station I wormed my way out of the car and popped up to the surface and relatively fresh air.  The colorful sign of La Droguerie called to me.  Loose skeins of yarn – mohair, cashmere, cotton, organic – in a rainbow of teal, deep marine, cherry, wheat, sunflower hung in looping bundles from pegs against ancient walnut-stained walls.  I tried to compute prices (4,50€/50 gr – how much is in 50 gr?) while other women crowded 2-ft aisles consulting in that whisper-quiet French manner over grosgrain and fleur-de-lis appliqués. Wooden shelves of glass jars lined the walls of the second room.

I wandered in a reverie until I realized a quiet “Madame, madame . . .” was directed at me.  She asked if I spoke French (what – do I look like a tourist?) and then in English on par with my French pointed to my sac à dos and said “Madame, your pouch it is open.”  I pulled my pack around to the front and . . . crap.  Yes, the small outer pocket where I had put my wallet was completely unzipped.  With a merci I zip it back up and nonchalantly made my way out of the shop.

On the steps of Saint Eustache church I sat and took inventory.  My daylong metro pass was still in my pants pocket.  My phone was safe.  My change purse still nestled in a corner of that unzipped backpack pocket, but with only 2.50€ and a few centimes it wasn’t much help.  Wouldn’t even buy me a bottle of water in Paris.  My train ticket home sat firmly in the deep pocket that protected my camera and my passport and should have held my wallet.  But money, driver’s license, pictures of my family, my health insurance cards and my Missouri Botanical Gardens membership card that had been in the large zippered change purse that came with my crossbody bag – all gone.  And my Burt’s Bee strawberry lip balm!  They took my Burt’s I had dropped in the wallet for easy access.  Stupid.  Stupid.  Stupid me.  I knew better to hold my purse in front during metro rides.  Stupid.  Stupid.

I dragged myself back into the maze of the metro to catch my train home.  At Gare de Lyon I found an out of the way spot in the giant passageway between the Great Hall and the tracks and slid down to the floor, legs sprawled, to dejectedly wait the ninety minutes for my ride.  My mind first went to my practically empty stomach.  But then I started praying I didn’t have to go to the bathroom because I didn’t want to waste my money on a French public toilette in case another disaster befell me and I needed my meager sum.

Momentarily, just momentarily, I felt kinship with the dozens of homeless I had passed on the city sidewalks and metro station stairs.  It doesn’t take much to fall so low.  My sinuses still smelled the mélange of sweat and urine I had met so often that day.  But I still had a train ticket to somewhere warm and dry and a phone number of a friend in Paris if I really needed it. 

On the way home I read about Joan Didion’s real grief in her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking that I had bought at Shakespeare & Co.  As the train tracks click-clicked off the kilometers to food and bed I began to forget about my own imagined grief at being down and out in Paris.  The next day in Dijon the sun made a brief appearance, so all the sweets shops rolled out their ice cream carts.  A cone with menthe chocolat and a short stroll through the Friday street market made it easier to adjust to the fact that no driver’s license meant I couldn’t get to the music festival I had planned to attend with my Paris friend, Martine, at the end of July.

C’est la vie.

 Two French cats

Here are a few things I learned (or really relearned, duh) for your benefit when traveling:
1) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, i.e., don’t carry all money or bank cards in the same place.
2) Don’t place your wallet or passport where it’s most convenient.  Put it where it’s safest.
3) When leaving home base while traveling, don’t take your driver’s license (unless you’re driving) or all bank cards with you.  Leave some in a secure place where you’re staying.

I don’t believe in those neck wallets as the answer to everything; most are uncomfortable and all are inconvenient if you need something out of them .  I believe in thinking like the locals (do you wear a neck wallet when going to the grocery store or the movies?).  And have photocopies of everything in case the unwanted happens and you have to spend the night making half a dozen long distance calls to rectify things.
Do you have handy traveling hints for averting disaster to add?  Have you been laid down low and out when traveling?  Let us commiserate with you in the comments box.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Un Petit Goût de Bourgogne

A small taste of Burgundy.  Sip it slowly and enjoy all the flavors it gives off.

Here's Brad, contemplating math or a wine lover’s paradise, along the wine road of Vosne Romanée.

You met this young fellow, the watchdog of Concouer-et-Corboin, here.  It’s possible to spend all day in France taking photos of dogs and nothing else.

I haven’t quite figured out who this fellow is.  Doesn’t exactly look like Sarkozy, but his likeness is stenciled all over Dijon.  Clearly someone is trying to say something.

My wish before my stay is over is to get a decent picture of this fellow.  He usually appears around early dinnertime.  We had just tucked into our first course at a restaurant on rue Berbisey when he came along.  I had put my camera away just moments before, so it was a real scramble even to catch this shot.

We had just minutes before arrived in the city of Auxerre and were taking photos of the boats lining the riverbank when I spied this monk out for a morning stroll.  France is always a juxtaposition of the old and the new.

In Auxerre we heard music coming from Cathedral Saint-Etienne so I led the charge to participate in the Sunday service.  We happened to arrive just as an adult baptism began.  The congregation’s musical chants, however, were to the enthusiastic beat of sub-Saharan African drums.  At the offertory, the young woman recently baptized (in white, on right) carried the host, led by other young people dancing down the aisle to a drum chorus, baskets of fruit offerings on their heads and white handkerchiefs waving in one hand.

While I was snapping photos quietly from my place in the back, an old French woman sidled up to me and said something quickly but firmly in French.  I couldn’t interpret it easily, what with the drums going and the random AMENS being shouted, but I’m sure she was telling me not to take pictures in church.  After she left I went back to shooting.  In my church at home people are always pulling out cameras – for the church website, because a child is acolyting for the first time, because because just because.  They never interrupt the service.  Our Lady’s Guild members have practically a full time job archiving the photos from the life of our church.

So before slipping out during the last part of the service I found the donation box every church in Europe has, large and small, and dropped in 2€ as a penance, grabbed one of their brochures on the history of the church, and slipped out.  So here is the “offending” shot of a 4th century European church celebrating the global communion of our 21st century.

What other scenes of France would you like to see?  What would you like to know about France from my American perspective?  I’ll take any and all requests here although I can’t promise I’ll be able to fulfill them.  What would you like to read about while I’m here?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shhh -- Children Crossing

Going to market in Dijon

Children seem to be everywhere in Dijon.  And I don’t mean in the running-wild-will-somebody-just-shut-that-kid-up way.  They seem to be cherished, but they don’t seem to be catered to.  They’re not the center of the universe, and I find that such a welcomed relief.

While trying to raise our two kids my husband and I frequently felt like we were not just swimming against the tide but were trying to dog paddle in a bog.  We weren’t the house where all our kids’ classmates wanted to gather.  It had only one video game console instead of every one on the market – and only the games my son was willing to buy with his own money.  The bedrooms had no televisions and personal computers.

Our kids had to sit up straight at restaurants that had no children’s menu and eat what was in front of them or not eat at all (their choice).  One evening when one of my son’s friends stayed for dinner I was shocked silent when that young visitor left the table where we were eating pork tenderloin with raspberry marinade to – uninvited – scour the shelves of our refrigerator for something else to eat.  He wondered if we had any leftover pizza.  At that age I had mastered the art of choking down dinners of fish and brussel sprouts when at a friend’s house for dinner.  I had found that other children being raised by my boomer generation had never eaten any vegetable but peas because, well, they just didn’t like them and nobody made them.  Clearly they didn’t grasp my own youngsters’ love of turnip greens.

We listened for about ten years to “Everyone else is doing it “ and knew that in our corner of parentdom our own kids weren’t exaggerating.  Many classmates were getting to go on unaccompanied spring breaks, have prom parties in hotel rooms rented by parents, leave household chores to the weekly cleaning lady, return late to school after Christmas because family vacations took priority over class time.

While sitting at my favorite tea salon in Dijon this week (read about the salon here) I saw a familiar sight.  Like ducklings paddling close behind Mama, string after string of nursery school students would pass through the crowded market day crowd, making not a sound but keeping up with their leader.  They all held hands.  They all wore the ubiquitous summer sunbonnets of various ilk.  Some wore fluorescent yellow safety vests just in case they got separated, I suppose.

The square was filled with children wearing sun hats, some even with sunglasses.  They were comfortably holding hands with parents, grandparents, and each other.  They were talking quietly, even if excitedly, as they made their way to or from the carousel that dominated the square.  They were helping to carry the groceries and holding the dog leashes.

No, I’m not saying that this is a nation of perfect children.  I’m sure teenagers frequently scream that their parents are ruining their lives.  And I’m sure that more than once a toddler had drawn on the wall with crayons or a child has refused to go to bed when told.  However, I can also report that no restaurant meal of mine has been interrupted by crying kids or 3-year olds left to run around the room so parents could eat in peace.  I’ve never seen any child have a public meltdown in the grocery store.  In fact, on an average day I rarely hear a child’s voice (even on a bus) because they seemed to be trained to speak doucement (softly) from an early age.

Yet the children are everywhere.

The French have written books on how to dress, how not to get fat, how to run a country, why their language is so magnificent.  Perhaps they would be so kind as to translate into English one on how to raise seemingly perfectly obedient children.  Does it involve large amounts of wine and chocolate?  Why are they keeping this singular part of their “perfect” French culture all to themselves?

Meanwhile, I’ll just smile at all the sunbonnets for the rest of this month.

What are your best/worst children in public stories?  If you’re a parent how did you make your children “ready for primetime” when they were younger?  Share your stories in the comments box.

Monday, July 11, 2011

In-Your-Face Art

The faces of Villars-Fontaine

My husband and I rounded a curve while still debating what road we were on along Burgundy’s wine route and what road we were supposed to be on (a common dilemma when driving in France).  The far side of that curve, however, stopped us short when we came face to face with a village full of, well, faces.  Yes, summer is art season in France and every hamlet, village, and city finds its own way to publicly celebrate the creative side of its culture.

In Villars-Fontaine we were stopped by a small, tree-lined lane displaying black and white photos of its citizens.  They were posted on both sides of the trunks, so you could enjoy the portraits coming and going.  Almost every building in the village had a face hanging on its wall.  My French wasn’t good enough to read information panels about the artists or the models.  We were satisfied, however, to walk the rough streets and visit with the people who lived there, even if we never spoke.

Taking art to the streets

This very local art display, reminded me of the growing artistic movement in the States represented by American Quilt Barn Trails.  A grass-roots cultural statement, the quilt squares have marched across the Midwest, appearing on barns, sides of old brick stores, on houses, and even shaping gardens for the lucky and observant traveler. (See it here and here)  What the regions along the quilt trails share with their distant cousins in France is pride in their culture and their history.  Art is not reserved for museums, nor does it need the stamp of approval from someone outside of their community.

The difference between France and the U.S., though, is that art seems essential to French life.  You find it in unexpected places, from mailboxes to moving wall murals.  A stroll to our car after dinner in the town of Beaune treated us to a light show on the side of the city hall.  Gorgeous animation filled the four-story stone edifice, telling the human and agricultural history of this graceful medieval town.  We could have watched the scenes projected on the wall all night if it weren’t so late and we still had an hour’s drive back to Dijon.

A French mailbox
I miss these small touches of daily delight when I’m at home in the States.  I’m not sure where we would fit our art, though.  In the parking lot of a big-box store?  But then again, how would we see it while driving past in rush hour traffic?  American photographer Paul Strand (who spent almost three decades of his life in France and made art out of such unlikely subjects as Wall Street) said, “The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.

I think when I get home I need to start looking a little more closely.

The history of Beaune in beautiful animation on the side of the City Hall
Readers’ Show and Tell
Where have you seen art in your daily routine?  Share here so we can see what you are seeing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Importance of Elsewhere

A watch dog watching over the entire village of Corboin in Burgundy

The Importance Of Elsewhere by Philip Larkin

Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home, 

Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech, 

Insisting so on difference, made me welcome: 

Once that was recognised, we were in touch

Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint 

Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable, 

The herring-hawker's cry, dwindling, went 

To prove me separate, not unworkable.

Living in England has no such excuse: 

These are my customs and establishments 

It would be much more serious to refuse. 

Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.

Thursday I was in sleepy river town of Moline, IL, home of tractor maker John Deere.  Sunday I was navigating the massive airport and busy train stations of Paris, FR.  Today I wander the narrow late medieval streets of Vosne Romanée and hold my breath as massive, modern wine-cultivating equipment creeps past my bedroom window with only centimeters to spare.  Yes, it’s time to travel again.

I’m not a travel snob (I hope not), needing to notch my belt with 1000 places somebody says I must see before I die.  I don’t look for the exotic – in my advanced age I like a bed to sleep on at night and food made from animals I can identify.  I don’t even always need to go far or be gone for long.  My heart dances, however, at the idea of Elsewhere.

Poet Philip Larkin understands the importance of elsewhere.  There is a certain freedom in feeling out of place and a certain familiarity in feeling disoriented.  “Strangeness made sense,” Larkin concludes.  I travel usually sans the now ubiquitous GPS unit.  Not that they’re not helpful, but I enjoy finding my way on instinct and a physical map.  Traveling that way, to get lost just becomes an opportunity to know a new place better. Last summer for my trip between Dijon and La Roche-Posay I did have one.  We were constantly arguing – the machine and I – about which was the more efficient route and which the more interesting.  I voted for interesting every time and suffered the consequences.  But the Loire Valley is now a part of me, the winding roads and the troglodyte houses that marked my path to the Vienne River.

It’s a bit harder to work up enthusiasm, however, for the Elsewheres of the mind and of my life.  “These are my customs and establishments / It would be much more serious to refuse,” Larkin admits.  Too often at home I let the routine of home crowd out an enthusiasm for what might be around the corner.  I grow impatient with detours in my day.  I don’t find the time for salsa dancing lessons.  I hunt for the quickest line at the grocery store.  I feel obligated to say yes when someone asks something of me, even if I had planned to spend that time reading or practicing French.

Navigating elsewhere empowers me to feel comfortable in the unfamiliar.  I arrive someplace new and quickly feel at home and energized.  At home, though, I often feel stuck and dragged down by routine.  For the next month I’ll be elsewhere in place and in mind.  Perhaps by the time I return I’ll have figured out how to keep traveling where I am.  How to keep moving forward, detours and all, while staying put.

Where is your Elsewhere?  What makes you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?  Share your Elsewheres of the body or mind here.

A modern farmer uses the traditional techniques in the vineyards of Vosne Romanée, FR

I think I'll call this color "French Green"

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