05 April 2011


I used to take my two little ones (before there were three) to run about on the lawn to the right almost daily, and when les canards flocked to the canal, we'd throw bread crumbs and watch them work themselves into a honking frenzy. Behind the town hall (that building in the background) the river flanked by a dirt path winds through forest that stretches to the symmetrical and immense Parc Colombière--a nice long, lovely walk I took often with my two sausages. Of course, they remember nothing of it--the older one was barely three then. If the camera were reversed you'd see the town library, whose entrance was built over a little cataract and dam; the roar and mist of the crashing water would greet you each time you exited the building, and my children would stare in half-wonder, half-terror at the falls directly below through the iron grill of the platform. Our little apartment was a short walk across the street, and around the corner from us were two patisseries that proved to me no two baguettes are alike; depending on my craving, I'd either visit the one that baked an airy bread with pale, flaky crust, or the other that made a thicker center with a heavy, dark crust. I remember that Christmas, I had run at the last minute to the latter bakery to buy some little gateau or tarte to celebrate the next day--and I was so disappointed to find that everything, absolutely everything, was gone, except for these palm-sized, flat butter cookies with raspberry center--yet they ended up being my favorite treat the rest of the year.

If one walks farther along the road to the left, you'll come across the Church of St-Pierre, whose liturgy was one of the strangest I've ever experienced. Although the priest was present, a woman opened the Mass with some words I didn't at the time comprehend, and kept popping up throughout at odd times. Once there was enough; I knew I'd have to start taking the bus into Dijon for Mass--and how fortuitous a decision that turned out to be, for at Cathédrale St-Bénigne I found a parish home, reverent liturgy, and a confessor who remains as dear to me now as then.

Coming across the photo reminds me of that pedestrian life we once lived in a foreign country. If I could return, I'd love to make a pilgrimage to the Vendée, and visit those grounds hallowed by the blood of Catholics who died for throne and altar. Someday perhaps.