Meet my First Grandson – Bodhi Carson!

Months after returning home, I’m entering my last blog post. I suppose it’s like lingering over the final pages of a cherished book. Finishing means letting go of the pleasure and daily-ness of living this dream. Knowing that I had one more experience to post has kept me connected to the transformative months of my journey. I left the beginning of September with the intention of clearing my life and letting go of too much responsibility and daily activities. I return full of grace, remembering what it feels like to be a child: To awaken each morning with a sense of wonder and excitement; To follow one’s momentary desires; To laugh; explore while riding a bike; enter caves and hike miles underground; taste food in it’s most simple, delicious state; study the wines of foreign lands; and engage with people who respect wisdom that comes with age. I return revitalized and indeed ready to do the most meaningful work of my life. And, most importantly, to welcome my first grandchild — Bodhi Carson Gervreau, who has in three short weeks captured my heart.

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The Last City of My European Journey – Paris

I open wide the French windows on this glorious last day in Paris and see a woman riding her bike down the narrow Rue de Poitou, presumably on her way to work with seemingly not a care in the world. I hear the click, click, click of a woman’s shoes, the sound of a car every so often and look at the billowing clouds above the rooftops, as I practice my yoga for the last time for a while in Europe. It will not be 33 years before I return to Paris, where it is impossible not to fall in love. My heart is overflowing.

I think of what the day will bring, and smile at the thought of visiting Palais Garnier tonight for a modern ballet, followed by a long walk home to appreciate Paris by night. There is nothing I would rather do on my last night in Paris. Every moment of every day throughout these past two months in Europe has been like today. Fortuitous, perfect, living in the moment and allowing time to unfold, as it will, naturally.

From the moment I arrived in Shetland, and was greeted by Susie and Angus and escorted the five moments it took to drive from the small airport to a sunset walk on the beach, this journey has been seamless. May I hold close these cherished memories and always remember the richness that comes from living fully in each and every moment?

In closing, I will let the magnificence of Paris speak for itself through these photos. I must however add that today on my last day of this journey I will spend the day doing what my mother-in-law did so many years ago. I will search the city for the most precious pure cotton, soft baby clothes fit for a little prince or princess, and I will return to my children, tomorrow, gifts in hand with stories to tell.

A perfect place to stay in Le Marais

A perfect place to stay in Le Marais

Civilized city living

Civilized city living

La Seine —flowing through Paris and into the English Channel creating the boundaries of Rive Droite and Rive Gauche

La Seine —flowing through Paris and into the English Channel creating the boundaries of Rive Droite and Rive Gauche

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I ask you, is there any city more beautiful than Paris?

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My favorite museum in the world - Musée Rodin

My favorite museum in the world – Musée Rodin

Le Penseur —Rodin's most monumental sculpture

Le Penseur —Rodin’s most monumental sculpture

03. Champignions03. Fruits

Champignons — The main reason to visit France in November!

Second best reason...

Second best reason…

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Love is all around!

Love is all around!

Ahhh Paris!

Ahhh Paris!

Shops of gay Paris — The French translation of Artisan

Shops of gay Paris — The French translation of Artisan

Centre Georges Pompidou — National Museum of Modern Art

Centre Georges Pompidou — National Museum of Modern Art

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier

Palais Garnier

What was my delight upon looking up to see  a ceiling painting by Marc Chagall?

What was my delight upon looking up to see a ceiling painting by Marc Chagall?

La Bambouseraie in Anduze

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Les Terrasses du Gardon – During our farewell luncheon on a lovely terrace overlooking the village of Anduze and Le Gardon river, Remi and I enjoyed the Menu du jour followed by a trip to La Bambouseraie. This bamboo park designed in the late 19th century, draws tourists from near and far. There are more than 60 different types of bamboos from throughout the world, diverse oak trees and, believe or not, even Sequoias which originated in Oregon. Giant Magnolia trees were among my favorite as were the multitude of Japanese Maples all in full color this time of year. The visit was exquisite and again, many thanks to my gracious host Rémi for making sure that I saw so many interesting sites.

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Rémi’s Pot-au-feu

This trip would not have been complete without a traditional Pot-au-feu. When Rémi lived in Sonoma County, all of our friends were introduced to his pot-au-feu as a rite of passage into our Franco-American marriage and lives. A trip to the Anduze Farmers’ Market was, of course, where he began his day of cooking.

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Cirque de Navacelles

The sun came out and we departed for our next grand adventure. Two hours into the drive back to Anduze, Remi surprised me with a stop at Cirque de Navacelles  — check it out on the internet, as my photos can’t do justice to this natural wonder of the world. Cirque 1Cirque 2

It is a classified UNESCO Humanity Patrimony (which means it’s considered one of the most extraordinary sites in the world). I was in awe that within two short weeks I was privileged to see two wonders of the world — the first being the Caves of Antiparos, and the second this deep, deep canyon created from a tiny river that occurred somewhere between 140-160 million years ago. Talk about the trip of a lifetime. I’m ever so grateful to Rémi for making this detour to show me this extraordinary place. My first view was from the top of the canyon. Cirque 3Rémi then drove the 10 km to the bottom where a village had been established hundreds of years ago. The switchbacks were reminiscent of a “E” ride at Disneylandand if the sight hadn’t been so inspiring I wouldn’t have been able to watch. We toured the small village and enjoyed the cascade and natural ponds. We then ascended going the opposite direction and upon reaching the top hiked to Belvédère de la Doline.Cirque 4Cirque 5

 

Anduze, St. Roman, Rodez – France

Each morning I took walks through the ancient village of St. Roman, which dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

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On the way to Rodez to visit Rémi’s friends Jean-Pierre and Genevieve Charissou, we stopped for lunch in Plateau du Larzac at Le Gare Oaux Anes and ordered the Menu du Jour….Salade de Chevre Chaud & Boeuf Bourguignon — it was pouring down rain and the warm lunch offered a welcome reprieve from the onset of winter.

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At the Farmers’ Market in Rodez –’tis the season for champignons. As we were in Roquefort country where the choices were overwhelming, cheese was also on the menu. Thankfully, Rémi knew just which one to choose, the Vieux Berger, that can be found only in this region of Aveyron. Then lunch at Jean-Pierre and Genevieve’s using the butternut squash, champignons, fish, pain and fromage fresh from the farmers’ market, felt like being back in Healdsburg.

Anduze, France

Rémi lives in Anduze, a small medieval village with a castle from the 12th century. Le Gardon is the river, which runs through it, and originates from the seven mountains as it meanders down to Le Rhone. Anduze is named La Port de Cevennes because it’s the first access to the seven mountains coming from the Mediterranean Sea. The main industry in this southern village of France is, you guessed it, winegrowing. Languedoc-Roussillon is an emerging winegrowing region that has gained tremendous respect and notoriety in the past two decades. This area is one of the sunniest regions in France with the cultivation of fruit and vegetables as the second largest industry after wine. (Sounds a lot like Sonoma County, doesn’t it?).

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As for the wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the winery closest to where I am living at Rémi’s, and whose vineyards I walk each morning, is called Vignerons de Tornac. Some of their wines are labeled “AB” which denotes Agriculture Biologique (organically farmed and made, which means no sulfites). The 2012 Merlot and 2012 Sauvignon Blanc are definite bargains. For 3.78 Euros each these wines are delicious. In fact, we purchased other local wines for around 11 euros each which couldn’t compare in quality.

Marseille, France — The 2013 European Capital of Culture

In honor of welcoming our first grandchild into the world in January, my ex-husband Rémi met me at the Marseille airport. We toured the city by car and by foot, prior to having lunch on the Vieux Port in the centre of town that had recently undergone apparently a much needed renovation.

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Rémi in Marseille.

The sprucing up of Marseille celebrates the honor that was bestowed on the city this year in being named the European Capital of Culture. With a port full to the brim with boats, and locals and tourists strolling the dock listening to mistrals and perusing the many things for sale at the open-air crafts market, I sensed Marseille as a big village with a slow, charming, multi-cultural population, surrounded by the sea, lots of sunshine, beautiful architecture and cobble-stoned streets. It was easy to imagine why, at the turn of the 20th century, Marseille had become Europe’s second busiest port, after Barcelona, on the Mediterranean Sea, and a refuge for immigrants from throughout Europe and the world.

We celebrated our first night in Anduze with dinner at Rémi’s favorite restaurant Le Cabanon

Postcards from Paros, Greece – October 1 – October 19, 2013

First Day 

Alone in Paros

Alone in Paros and ready for adventures!

Awakened early and followed my feet…

Home Again in Greece at Connie & Rod’s home on Paros

Home Again in Greece at Connie & Rod’s home on Paros

Street in Paros

Street in Paros

I walked and swam and walked and swam and walked and walked until I found myself at the end of the island climbing into the hills, until I could go no further, as I marveled at the coast below – a blue/green unlike any other than the Aegean Sea. I found myself alone with nature, one day after the season in Paros – Greece had ended. Brazilian wood lounge chairs abandoned, tables folded, bars shuttered — alas, my kind of Paradise!

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Parikia, Paros, Greece

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Day One – Ahhhh Greece!

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Another Day in Paradise

I discovered a long dock with a bamboo covering and textured carpet, perfect for Down Dogs and Hero poses.

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Yoga on a deserted dock in Paros

Down Dogs from every possible perspective

Down Dogs from every possible perspective

 

After many inversions in which I examined the sea from many perspectives, I headed for the perfect rock I had noticed on the way in. Slipping from a smooth stone decorated with algae I sank into the velvet of the Aegean Sea, where I remained for what seemed like hours — experiencing the ebb and the flow, allowing the Greek sun to do its magic, while I completely forgot about all things other than the here and now. I remembered the joy of being in a place where it takes all day to do nothing, as my cousin Susie and I experienced 35 years ago together on Hydra, where she lived then. 

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Ahhhh Europe, everyone is speaking a different language and yet we all communicate. It always amuses me how people knowing that they are not using the same language continue to speak using hands and facial expressions, with a pure desire to be understood, louder and slower, speaking over each other with the two languages, and miraculously half of what is said is communicated. I’m so happy!

…Sitting in a small Greek Cafe on a cloudy, windy day talking to German tourists when the music switches to Pachelbel Canon in D minor. My heart literally bursts into feelings — first in remembering my mother and of how happy she would be that I’m back in Greece, a place I love dearly. Then, in remembering my children walking down the aisle on their wedding day to this music. Joy fills my heart as I take another sip of my beetroot, carrot, ginger, and blood orange juice… and continue talking to the Germans in a smattering of languages.

Colin & Stella’s Greek Café – Best juice on the island & Thursday night Quiz Night

Colin & Stella’s Greek Café – Best juice on the island & Thursday night Quiz Night (Colin is English, Stella is Greek)

Ah to be living with such an open heart that is old enough and well-worn enough to take it all in…

Gracious Living in Shetland

Being in Susie’s house reminds me of my heritage. Secluded as she is in the isolated, austere landscape of this magnificent island, Susie has brought with her the comforts of home. I smile as I examine the Irish linen fresh from the line and crisply ironed sheets on my bed, the Waterford Crystal cigarette holder that now serves as a holder for Q-tips in the bathroom, the Limoges China from which we drink our coffees and the embroidered Turkish towels that are warmed atop the bathroom heater. Everywhere I look I smile as I remember our parents and grandparents and the abundance that our families made for themselves. We are bound together by our Grandfathers — two of 13 children — the brave brothers who emigrated from Germany at the turn of the 19th century. Somehow these German Jews landed in the Mormon promised land of Utah.  My grandfather married a Mormon, while Susie’s married Aunt Molly who shared his religious culture. The thread of our childhoods woven during summers in Salt Lake City created a bond between Susie and me that has lasted a lifetime.

Our first shared global experience as young adults occurred in our early twenties when Susie was living on the Greek Island of Hydra….but I digress.

Linens drying on the line

Linens drying on the line

Crisply ironed sheets on my bed

Crisply ironed sheets on my bed

Bathroom detail

Bathroom detail