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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i n t e r m i s s i o n : providence edition



a time to build up, a time to break down
a time to dance, a time to mourn
a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.

As they say, to everything, there is a season.  There has been much food, culture, and luxuriating in my favorite little state these past few weeks.  I’m looking forward to getting back into my tea and homework tours soon, but for now, we turn turn turn…


IMG_2335+ a sunset picnic playing catch up at Prospect Park

+ 2 visits to Oberlin in 2 weeks

+ a trip to Trinity to see friends in Oklahoma!

+ an old school Exeter slumber party complete with fireworks and cartoons

+ a (rather spontaneous) 5-course dinner/wine tasting with Theresa Heredia at Flemings to benefit the ballet

+ brunch at The Beehive to celebrate a special birthday girl

+ beers for the ballet is happening this Saturday at Hope Street’s annual spring block party.  Come visit me in the beer garden if you’re local!

culture shock


At the ballet, Saturday is code for looooong rehearsals.  For me, right now Saturdays mean lots of sitting at the front of the studio, aka prime study time!  So today I read and read (and read) all about interpersonal communication for my human communications class and what I learned was, well, that I had already experienced so much of what the text was explaining…in that very ballet studio.

This sounds like the beginning of a really cheesy blog post about how much ballet has taught me and why dancing makes you smarter, but I promise it’s not.  This is about culture.

When people find out I dance with a professional ballet company, more often than not this question comes up within the first few minutes of conversation: So are all the guys, er, ballerinos, like, totally gay?  To which I reply, Well some are gay, some are foreign, some a little of both.  While there may be no complete black and white answer there, it’s all true.  In my daily life, many of my coworkers are gay (fitting the American stereotype of male ballet dancers all too well) and/or citizens of a country other than the US.  Just this morning in class, as I listened closely to today’s teacher giving the fondue combination at barre, I realized that not one of our artistic staff members is American- something that has always been true, but has taken me far too long to notice (I blame it on my blonde hair).

Chapter 2 of my textbook analyzes the challenges of  communicating across differing cultures, due to variations in social behaviors, values, and idioms.  Of course, being a straight American female, communicating with a gay Japanese man (as I do every single day) could be classified as having high risk of misinterpretation.  To me, it’s just a Tuesday afternoon rehearsal.  Being counted off with “5, 6, 7, H…”  from my Lithuanian ballet mistress is just the norm.

Up until this point, I have taken these cultural contrasts for granted, not understanding just how greatly being exposed to them has enriched my life and my world view.  I love the fact that communicating with a wide range of people so drastically outside of my own subculture has become second nature to me.  Who woulda thunk when I auditioned for my very first Nutcracker all those years ago, ballet would have affected my life so drastically?  Ah, the true definition of life lessons reveals itself…