a poppy in normandy

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On Wednesday we visited the D-Day beaches.  We looked out over Omaha and Pont du Hoc and the somber sites that changed the world’s perspective of Normandy forever.  We stood amongst the craters of hallowed earth blasted by US bombs and under bunkers from which German soldiers slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Allied troops.  These cliffs saw some of history’s most devastating battles.  But before we saw those cliffs, something incredible happened…

As we were leaving our cozy little cottage at La Beauverie (Bissay’s, as it’s known), I mentioned how I’d been thinking about my grandfather, whom we all called Poppy.  He was a member of the Fighting 36, an American soldier in the second World War.  He was awarded a Purple Heart after surviving a gunshot to his back in the south of France.  He was Sicilian, with tight curls and a secret meatball recipe.  He traveled from Italy into France and across Europe to liberate, and he was younger than I am now when he did it.

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This morning we were walking down the hill towards our car, ready to drive to the coast to see Omaha, when M stopped and turned.

“Hey, look” he pointed.  I was a few steps behind, but immediately recognized the orange-red blossom.  A single red poppy poked up through the overgrown grass, softly waving in the breeze.

We had walked up and down this hill numerous times in the past few days at La Beauverie.  There were daisies, dandelions, and camomile.  Spiky purple clovers exploded up in clusters, and soft lacy elderflowers sprayed the entire property with their cottony cloud.  This bright flower stood alone, beckoning.

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When I approached and bent down, I was surprised yet again.  The dress I’d chosen to wear that day, one of very favorites (I call it my “lady dress” for it’s retro, feminine style), is printed with- yes, poppies.  Can you believe I’d never realized what type of flower they were before this moment?

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It’s hard to describe what I felt upon connecting all of these things, or seeing the fields full of fiery flowers around the beaches of Normandy.  To my shock, when we returned to the estate tonight, my poppy had been trimmed away with many of the other wild flowers by the property’s landscapers.  Though I admit I’d been looking forward to visiting my bold blossom again that evening, it didn’t make me sad exactly.  It felt right.  My poppy came, and did what it- what he-needed to do.  My heart is full.

 

final photo by Michael Collins.

sweet november

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November might just be my favorite month of the year.  Sandwiched between the sadness of summer’s end and the craze of December’s bustle, November invites a welcome change of pace and a conscious appreciation of earth’s seasonal rhythm.  Bulky sweaters are out yet coats and gloves remain unrequired, hokey Halloween has passed but pumpkins (and the plethora of baked goods they inspire) are still considered seasonally acceptable, and the pages of my calendar are buzzing with the sweet approach of the real holiday season.  What I’m referring to, of course, is the last Thursday of the month.  Thanksgiving.  Those who know me well know that I find Thanksgiving paramount to all other holidays- in my eyes no other celebratory event compares.  And it’s only 10 days away.  But who’s counting, right?

After the opening of Up Close On Hope, M and I had the most peaceful of Sundays, complete with noodles at DENDEN, a visit to the Providence Athenaeum (my first), and a stroll around the RISD Museum to finish the final few rooms we’d missed on our first go round.  We discussed the difference between Udon and Buckwheat, delighted in the heady drunk of a slow walk down Benefit Street, and let our eyes fall wide over the ancient artwork wrapping the walls of PVD’s most prestigious gallery.  We whispered with friends, surrounded by books, quintessential colonial New England architecture, and even a little FBP press.  I dove into George Sand’s Intimate Journal and fell in love with one too many passages.  Later we mused on the intention of baroque artists, the devastating failure of a blurry squirrel mirror and the absurd nonchalance with which we were able to experience all of these wonderments.  Providence, you are so good.

Yes, I admit to loving Thanksgiving for its emphasis on family, food, and stretchy pants.  But my penchant for a holiday based on giving thanks is rooted in just that: a heightened awareness of everything for which to be grateful in my life.  I am so very thankful for the resilience of the magical city of lights in the wake of such tragedy, the physical and mental health of the people I love, and the culture-drenched city I come home to each night.  At the conclusion of every weekend in November, I like to take inventory of the smaller things in life which garner my gratitude.  Right now, those things include fuzzy turtlenecks, shared cinnamon buns, and curry-peppered popcorn pushed promptly passed my lips by the very best hands.

golden october

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Indirect routes up my homestate, through towns I’ve never seen. IMG_3353

 A nostalgic first stop- witches, stitches, ships and caffeine. IMG_3334Salem in a sun shat, painted trees and paper signs- so many people packed in a little pig’s eye.

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Up the colonial coast, now pig’s fly- through magic houses in my blue beach town.
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 A feast of fall, friends and euphoria steals the season’s final bow.IMG_3439IMG_3440 2

pvd tea tours

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Maybe you’ve noticed, or maybe you’ve been  busy like me, but it’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog.  Summer is in full swing and this year that has meant attempting to stay in shape (I do strange things at the gym), many hours of studying (and morbid conversations with whoever will listen, thanks PHL 303: Philosophy of Death and Dying) and a surprisingly adventurous social life (there have been several more bridges in the recent past).

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In an attempt to elevate my experience in the drafting of my the final philosophy paper (when the subject is death, you’ll do just about anything to keep from plunging into darkness), I’ve been indulging in a bit of a self-guided coffee shop tour of Providence.  Everywhere I go, I order a large green tea and camp out for several hours, typing away and people watching as I write.  Sidetone: I’m surprised the folks over at The Shop haven’t at least asked me to do some dishes or something, I’ve taken up such a residency as of late…

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I’ve lived in this city for four years, and am embarrassed to admit I am only now realizing just how diverse its many neighborhoods are.  From the politically-driven collegiates of Thayer Street, to the aesthetically-gifted hipsters of Fox Point, the people of Providence do not take their coffee- or the ambiance in which it is to be consumed- lightly.

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And fortunately for loitering artist/student types like myself who wish to do homework (and procrastinate said homework with needlepointing projects) somewhere “out in the world”, the range from spicy, electric Westminster to feminine-French Washington makes for a rather exciting list of potential post-ups. Off to explore a bit more, but for now I’ll leave you with this image of the macarons I devoured at Ellie’s Bakery yesterday afternoon, which were just as delicious as they were pretty.

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Lemon Lavender, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Lime Coconut.  Oh, and a large green tea of course.

train rails and pony tails

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In the heat of a July day in May,
I empty my lungs as we slip out
Over dusty train tracks in the sky.
Fractured wooden planks posing as handrails
Seem to float up accidentally from the river below,
Ebbing and bobbing like nomadic mobile mazes
Coolly ducking our grazes
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Walking and talking about heights and hair,
Islands and pride and people with stories of their own.
On a graffitied concrete slab testing my phobia
Our legs dangle over the edge now, heads rest on the hard surface,
All of it softened by this foreign fluttering inside me.
Habit begs me to be afraid, but I left my breath back on those tracks
And there’s a comfort to your company, a contentment in our closeness.

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Sliding under the mighty jaw of the draw and into its mouth
You show me life in a decaying metal mountain,
Ornamented with lilacs, a painted steel tree
With branches as delicate as its trunk is strong.
My breath returns for an inhale only to be twice seized
By the scorched tongue of the bridge beneath me,
A false floor with more space than base.IMG_8877
Willing my wobbling legs not to give up now
Sweaty hands clench my mother’s vintage leather at my hip.
My guarded gaze glides cautiously Up,
Up into the throat of a tipped bridge,
Up to the soaring swing where those who seek adrenaline in asylum go to release amid the clouds.
For a moment I am brave enough to close my eyes,
And I fly on the blue backyard swingset of my childhood.IMG_8897 (1)
Your sudden reckless affection does not disrupt my flight
But instead elevates it,
Extends, excites and exhalts it,
And I’ve been floating for so long now
My feet can’t seem to touch the ground.
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-1:08 am, 5.17., a restless mind writing.

end of summer bliss

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Ahh, the sweet sights of late summer in New England.

Colorful, shiny, enlightening, trips to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.  Rustic flower arrangements by the beach in York, Maine.  Summer fruits in the spotlight for a healthy breakfast in Providence.  These are the captured moments of happiness and creation that have fueled my curious mind these past few weeks.

It’s all too easy to find one’s self unmotivated, uninspired, stoic, and stir-crazy as mid-August approaches and the nights lose their humidity.  Luckily, that hasn’t been much of a problem for me this year, as planning for my upcoming trip to Ireland (!!!) has kept me beyond activated in the inspiration department.  In 9 days I will fly from Boston to Dublin to meet up with le boyfriend’s family in celebration of his graduation from college.  When the rest of his family returns to the states, K and I will spend another week exploring the beautifully green postcard-ready viewsof Ireland.  Already on the itinerary: a visit to Galway City, Connemara, and hopefully a few more destinations close by.  We plan to hike through the Cliffs of Moher, check out the art museums, hop on board a ‘ukulele bus’ and be lead through the woods of the countryside by donkeys.  If you have any suggestions of sights, restaurants, pubs, or anything else that cannot be skipped- please let me know in the comments section!

all photos via my instagram (@keeksevans)

life on lewis

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Moving my entire life from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 4 bedroom house has kept me quite busy, to say the least.  It seems there is always something to be done here, and just when I feel like I’ve accomplished something, another task swoops down in my face, announcing its incompleteness like a half-eaten donut just waiting to be devoured.  But, like a good donut, these tasks are more sweet than laborious.  Hanging art, stringing lights, potting plants…the sweets of summertime moving.

The most exciting bit about this move, though, is that I have a new roommate: my boyfriend!  He hasn’t moved in quite yet, but give it a few weeks and we’ll be en route to the blissful, difficult, just-moved-in-together life that is waking up next to your favorite person every day.  That, my friends, is what I’m really looking forward to.  Beyond excited.

In the meantime, le boyfriend and I have been antiquing, flea marketing, and DIY-ing up a storm, determined to make this place feel homey and like “us”.  One of my favorite projects so far was spray painting that blue shelf in the first photo.  It was a hand-me-down from Kevin’s mom, a gorgeous piece whose chipping white paint needed a bit of TLC.  It was Kevin’s idea to paint it blue, my first time attempting a spray paint, and now one of our most prized transformation pieces thus far!  I think it pairs really well with that J.M. Barrie print, a gift from a dear friend on the opening night of Peter Pan.

I’ll share more photos as our decorating process continues.  That’s all for now.  Happy Monday, cats.