to the moutains

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rising up before the sun
with fuzzy stardust eyes
through sherbet-tinctured pink webs we blink
to wake the sleepy sky

a cozy Coffee Pot sign
says “celebrate everything!”
so strawberry waffle, pockets all full
my REAL maple on the side

out and up the mountains now
towards the clouds we climb
we sneak and peek and dare to swim
in the veil of a marvelous bride

on the road we snack and sing
over lakes we row in time
these hearts a part of the same blue chart
under stars our two combine.

 

 

photos of me by Michael (cutest) Collins.

weekend reads

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This week I’ve been pushing a bit harder, giving myself a class every morning and attempting to rehabilitate my body.  In short, everything hurts.  Shelby’s face in the photo above describes my feelings pretty accurately.  Here are some fun things that have been distracting me from the pain…

Morning walks.

My dear Emily’s words on confidence came at just the right time this week.

Beyond the barre.

The most accurate description of fresh farmer’s market tomatoes I’ve ever read.

A career in the corps.

PSA: Go see this movie.

Plate it.

Vintage Olympics.

Speaking of Olympics, this article makes a lot of good points about the dancing in female gymnast’s floor routines. (somehow I’ve never questioned why the male gymnasts don’t dance…)

 

photo via.

diary of an injured dancer

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Advice to any dancers who have been nursing an injury for the past 3 months: make your first class back one filled with 12-year-olds.

No matter how much time you’ve spent away from the studio, that first time facing the mirrors after an injury is going to be rough.  The barre feels foreign under your palm, there’s a leotard invading your personal space and your ankles can barely support an eight-count balance.  Eeep.

Place a young dancer in front of you, though, and see empowerment replace fear.  Your knees will still wobble and your fingers will feel fuzzy, yes.  But those sparkly little eyes looking up at you from under stiff port de bras is just enough to enlighten.

Whenever I feel fearful about the daunting work that lies ahead before the start of this new season, I try to do something more easily said than done: remember my past.  I have fallen before, but I can rise strong.

FullSizeRender 103.jpgSo, have you read Brené Brown’s book yet?  What did you think?

feast or famine (& other food stories)

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Before climbing La Tour Eiffel on our final day in Paris, we stopped in at Cotume Café for some caffeine.  It had been a long morning of museums- from Musée d’Orsay to l’Orangerie- and we were hungry.  What we were truly hankering for was a good, sticky, banana-nutella crêpe, but with no venders en route and a failed attempt at visiting Blé Sucré (beware of the Parisian holiday!), we were unable to resist the exquisite bowl of yogurt behind the glass at Cotume.

As we noshed on the tangy greek yogurt, scooping bits of passion fruit and popping red currants up like we hadn’t seen food in weeks, we realized something.  Our trip had been a consistent rotation of feast or famine.  This small snack at Cotume notwithstanding (it was, after all, rather spontaneous), every meal had been one of abundance following hours of drought.  Feast or famine.  Starved or stuffed.

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The young midwestern American couple next to us (who struck up a conversation regarding the truly artistic yogurt bowl we’d since turned into a bit of a Jackson Pollack) had coined their own term for the feeling of unbalance.  They’d been experiencing a similar rhythm, and likened the state of being to that of a child after a long day at the zoo; They’ve walked their tired bones all around the grounds, waving at elephants, dancing for monkeys, and singing that one song from the Jungle Book too many times.  The sun is hot, their feet are tired.  They are zoo-zonked.  Yes.  It couldn’t have been a more accurate description.  That slap-happy exhausted feeling which stems from too much of an enviable activity.  There is only one cure for zoo-zonked individuals, and that involves a seat and a meal.

There were so many interesting food encounters during our stay…an inordinate amount of moules frites, the perfect picnic at Canal St. Martin, a Norman café owner inhaling fist-sized hunks of baguette steeped in brie, multiple iterations of our new favorite salad (the chevre chaud), the most delicious pesto-smothered escargot in Monmartre, a truly memorable omelette in Oberkampf, rows of vendors offering slices of abricot et tomate at the Bastille Marchée, flaky pastries at Du Pain et Des Idées, giant macarons and calvados-filled candies in Bayeux, rhubarb tartelettes in Pont L’Évêque, a fun cheese plate at the bar I was too shy to visit during my last trip to Paris, and striking vegetarian gold at Bob’s Kitchen.

One thing remained a constant, though; Nothing- not broken jaw bridge nor angry English coffee snob- could keep us from our daily baguette.  It was a ritual we took to with stunning fervor.  We learned early to order la tradición (the baguette’s more rustic counterpart) and found a certain pride in comparing the chewiness of this morning’s to the crunchiness of last night’s.  Of course, this amount of carb consumption does appear to negate any possibility of “famine” from our days.  Enter the subcondition of zoo-zonked: a state of possibly artificial hunger pangs induced by an insane amount of walking and/or photographing architecture.

Call us cliché, but we’d prefer culturally cloudy and zoo-zonked, if you don’t mind.

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breakfast à la beauverie

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“Here, in these gardens, my grandfather had painted in his Panama hat, and sometimes his suit, under an umbrella to keep the glare of sun from burning out all color in his work, while Stellita Steapleton or Mahdah Reddin or his daughter (my mother), Frances, or my grandmother took the sun.  Here had been formal gardens, trimmed hedges, and, the next terrace up, the cutting garden- all well fenced by hawthorn hedges to keep out animals.  Here the gardeners had worked under my grandmother’s supervision.  The yew tree, all asprawl now on the first terrace, had been trimmed in those days, and kept clipped in the shape of a basket.  Out of these gardens had come primulas; roses for the house; nasturtiums, whose cool leaves lined baskets of peaches and whose peppery blossoms made their way into salads; lavender for the linen closet; colombine; margeurites…”

A Place in Normandy, Nicholas Kilmer

Each day in Normandy, as we road tripped from one town to the next, whoever rode in the passenger’s seat that day (usually me) read aloud from this book.  Written by the current owner’s father, the sharp novel tells the story of La Beauverie, twisting through time from pre-war roots to present-day glory.  We’ve only made it halfway through so far (though we plan to finish!), but were pleasantly surprised to learn of its colorful history, including a longtime stint as the home and studio of impressionist painter Frederick Frieseke (the owner’s great great grandfather) and an incident with an interloping owl in its dreary ’80s phase.

Among my favorite things to read about were the flourishing gardens.  One evening, after a French Little House On The Prairie moment* walking back with a basket full of laundry from the Atelier, I decided to explore the gardens on my own.  The sentiment “Everything grows in Normandy!” we’d heard again and again since our arrival proved undeniably true in the pastures facing the house, but these gardens were quite contrarily an exercise in discipline.  Each stepped layer and pruned hedge was a cultivation of constraint, a controlled crop.

I’d been planning all week to make 2 ingredient pancakes (just bananas, eggs, and spices- have you tried them?), and suddenly felt no other place would be appropriate for their consumption.  That Saturday morning, we whipped up our ‘nana-egg-pancakes (M made apple compote for topping), grabbed some Nutella (my French travel essential), and nestled into les jardins.  No other description is necessary, it was every bit as wonderful as it sounds.

 

*These happened often.  I took a certain pleasure that week in strolling by the cows, calling them Lucy or Mindy or Grace, and pretending this was actually my life.

paintings of the garden by Frederick Frieseke.

a beach day in normandy: trouville edition

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It was the coldest, cloudiest day of our entire trip.  So we went to the beach.  When life gives you lemons, right?

After a little research (and I mean little), we packed up our towels (also little) and headed for Trouville.  What a pleasant surprise!  We’d been to several coastal towns in Normandy that week, but this was by far the most charming.  Families sharing ice cream cones, kids playing soccer in the sand, and so many striped beach tents.  M was pretty taken with the architecture just along the beach and I was totally transfixed by the murals everywhere.  They almost looked like a page torn out of an old children’s book, so sweet and faded.

We immediately took to the water.  There was splashing and superman-ing and somersaulting through the waves before returning to our teeny towels for apples and a swig of Calvados.  Ahh, the beach life.

Dinner that night was a slighty un-French round of tapas at a wine bar in town, served by a happy man who did not speak English.  He learned quickly of our language barrier, but decided not to dumb anything down.  Instead he spoke in such a diverse range of tones and inflections that the actual combinations of sounds and letters being used did not matter much.  We understood each other just fine, and he quickly became one of our favorite interactions.  That night we realized the human-to-human connection is far more powerful than any organized arrangement of words.

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a beach day in normandy

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Disclaimer:  This is not a story about our visit to the D-Day beaches.  This is a story about something else that happened on the day of our visit to the D-Day beaches.  It was the day of the poppy, the day we picked wildflowers at Omaha and crawled through bunkers at Pont du Hoc.  Perhaps most importantly, though, it was the day we met The Cider Man.

M and I were driving away from Omaha Beach, back towards Mesnil.  We were both silently looking for some procrastination to postpone the hour long drive home when we spotted the little wooden plank signaling “CIDRE”.  I gasped, he nodded, and we pulled in past the trees and under a grand stone arch.  M put the Polo into park and I looked up to see an open garage, chock full of surfboards, rakes, and other residential oddities.  A mustachioed man stood outside, greeting us with a Bonjour! and a big smile.  Had we just parked ourselves in someone’s private driveway?

Perhaps, yes.  But we decided to get out and acknowledge the kind gentleman, who seemed to be welcoming our intrusion, if that was indeed what was going on.  He continued speaking gingerly en français, and we smiled, followed and listened.  It was not until we reached the inside of the bar/cider shop area and he pointed at a huge map, land all stuck with little pins, that he broke into english asking, “Where do you come from?”

We placed our pins in Boston and Providence (where there was already one little pin waiting for mine to meet it, how cool!), and our Cider Man offered to try out his “not good” english (ps, it was actually perfect).  He skipped behind the bar and told us all about his cider.  He taught us about Normandy’s famous Calvados, its bubbly and apèritif counterparts, and the family farm that had been making it for generations.  As we sipped samples of the spoils, he told us about Châteaux Normands and Le Portail, the arch we’d just passed through.  The tall entryway and the original tower to its left were built in the 12th century, and the estate had been in the family for hundreds of years.  He told us about the history of the land, Norman apples, cows and cheese.  We talked about his brother (uncle? cousin?) who went to Michigan State, and his visits to Texas.  We talked about gun control and terrorism, American politics and World War II.  The astonishing thing was, that big smile never faded from its home beneath his pristine ‘stache.

Twenty minutes later we were heading toward Pont du Hoc, fresh Calvados in hand and the reflection of The Cider Man’s infectious smile plastered across our faces.  Àperitif and new french friend.

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