I’m writing today as I often write, sitting at home with a cup of tea. Outside, the birds are singing and a neighborhood cat whispers across my terrace. Flowers are blooming. It’s early spring in France, and everything appears to be normal.
But it’s not normal. I’m not allowed to leave my house without a piece of paper, called an “attestation de déplacement dérogatoire,” essentially a travel waiver, attesting on my honor that I am only traveling for one of the five allowed reasons: to go to the pharmacy, to go to the grocery store for essentials, to go to work, to exercise, or to help those in need. If you don’t have the paper when you’re stopped, the fine is 135 euros. It’s a government-mandated attempt to flatten the curve—a phrase that now has a heavier new meaning.
After all the great celebrations of Christmas and New Year have exited stage left, all eyes in Bize turn to the next big spectacle: Carnaval !
For our group, Lou Recantou, we meet at a variety of places to work on the elements of our Carnaval parade entry. To plan for costumes and shoes and jewelry and hair, we usually meet at Eliette and Claude’s house. For making flowers, we meet at Recantou headquarters, or Eliette’s house, or Pierrette and Jean Marc’s house, which is where we also do all the work on our parade vehicle.
The holiday season is winding down, with all the busy-ness of shopping, wrapping, mailing, cooking, and partying. I’ve gathered some photographs from my celebrations of both Christmas and New Year’s Eve to give you an idea of how things looked in my corner of paradise.
Christmas — Noël
On Christmas Eve—Réveillon de Noël—I joined some of my French friends for a visit to Narbonne to stroll through the Christmas market, watch the parade, and hope for a glimpse of Père Noël (Santa Claus). A week later, on New Year’s Eve—Réveillon du Nouvel An, or Saint Sylvestre—I was with many of the same folks to share a meal and watch the festivities televised from Paris, where 400,000 cold revelers crowded the Champs-Élysées.
I come from the United States, where this is the season of Thanksgiving. For my readers outside the U.S., please know that I’m not trying to force an American holiday on you! Rather than thinking of this as a day off work for eating a lot and watching football on TV, I choose to focus on it being a time to give thanks, and that is something that all of us can participate in, no matter the country, and truthfully, no matter the season.
I think of this holiday as an opportunity to reflect on the great gift of love, such as the shared love of family and friends or the love a person has for her town or her country. And for me, it is a time to express gratitude for the blessings in my life.
It’s all in how you say hello
Or to be more precise, it’s all about the humanity in taking a moment to properly greet one another. A year ago, I wrote two posts about saying hello and saying goodbye, although those were really stories about interacting with people who crossed my path. In this post, I’m going to address the language itself.
Circles, in words and pictures
Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles? Who’s in your social circle? Do you get dark circles under your eyes? Do you get stressed out when you have to circle the correct answer?
I haven’t photographed any of those things, but I do photograph circles. It all began with the photo below right, “Scribed Circle.” We were walking along a street in Paris, I spotted this little scene, and a theme was born. I’m happy to report that eight years later, the scene is still there; if I’m in that part of town, I pay a visit to my partial circle.