Sparkles for the Season

Archbishop Palace
The magic of the season in tiny sparkly lights adorning the medieval walls of the Archbishop’s Palace in Narbonne.

 

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.

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Gratitude and puzzle answers!

Awash in Squash
A colorful selection of winter squash.

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.

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You say hello, I say…

Striped Garlic Stripes
Lovely purple striped garlic, a regional specialty, home from the market and gracing my kitchen table.

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.

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Going in circles

Photo Set
Left, one of a series of abstracts made of eggs, during the last light of a wintry sunset, titled “What’s the Point”. Right, an inviting plate of “Antibes Macarons.”

 

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.

Photo Set
I love the perfect circles that are etched into wood or stone or stucco by loosened pieces of the hardware that is used for holding window shutters open. It’s a delightful contrast of precise geometry with wabi-sabi impermanence. Left, “Sorèze Circles,” and right, “Scribed Circle.”

 

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The smell of fresh-baked bread

Cauduro Fresh Loaves
Can you smell it? Warm, freshly-baked bread cools on racks right after being taken from the ancient bread oven.

Nine hours of bread: part one
We began the day with a drive that climbed high into the hills north of town, taking increasingly tiny roads and finally arriving at the hamlet of Cauduro for their bread feast. I have a weakness for tiny roads and secrets to be discovered, and this day’s outing was a dandy example.

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Carnaval 2019

Lynne and Maryse
With my friend Maryse at the end of the Carnaval parade, 2019.

 

When I was in high school, one of my favorite times of the school year was Homecoming. A big dance, a football game, cheerleaders, the queen and the king, the marching band… And the parade. Every class created a float for the homecoming parade, and my class was pretty darn good at making floats. We’d get together to come up with ideas and after that we’d sketch out designs; the fun really began once we were ready to start building that float. Every year, for four years, we built our float at Cami’s house, because her family had the absolutely perfect float-building setup. For a few weeks, we’d all go there after school and on the weekends, to socialize and put things together and socialize and paint and socialize. Those were golden moments wrapped in fun and problem-solving and hard work, and I remember all of it with great fondness.

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