Friday, September 11, 2009

Fridays - and a painful anniversary

It is the end of the week. Children off to their respective parents (mine included); it is a day of cleaning up, tossing out the trash, contemplating laundry (and occasionally actually doing some), and putting the house in order. With our new schedule -- Leo in school till 4pm on Friday -- I have an afternoon offered me on a platter to spend with Jonas, my quiet one. He joined me in the garden, accompanied me on a bike ride, and plunged into the pool; I'm all his for two hours today. For once, there's no competition for my time and attention.

It resonates for me that today marks a most painful anniversary. It is still rather surreal and horrible to contemplate. On the 13th of September, 2001, Erick and I had a group of clients we'll never forget. Six out of seven were already in Europe when the planes hit the towers, and thus, they showed up. We spent a week sharing, occasionally weeping, intensely connecting. We savored each moment, appreciated the individuals beside us during meals, and admired almost wistfully our artisans who had chosen such sane vocations. Meeting and being with people who create and build and share, who have a living, but are not overly concerned with wealth. It was an experience of untold richness. These people connected to the land, respectful of their activity and their product, welcoming and generous, guided us to what is truly important in life. Friends, family, and yes, savoring the present.

Whenever possible I simply try to move slowly and be: be with the boys, be with the house and the garden, be with Filou clipping, brushing, and yes, even with my bills and letters. It's an active state of mind for me to be calm. No doubt it sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact it is such. I choose to move slowly, and the choice in and of itself is more than a touch active. Running around frantically like a chicken with its head cut off would almost be easier.

Wednesday afternoon Leo and I finally got onto a tennis court on French soil together. We didn't play particularly well, but we tried. We shared a moment alone, the first since school has started back up. Together we proudly acknowledged Filou and Saline (the neighbor's dog) as they lay down on the court (in a shaded corner) and watched us play back and forth with those ever-so-tempting balls. Not once did they leap up to grab one in their jaws. I felt as proud of Filou -- behavior to rival a Calkins' dog! - as I am of Leo when he reads beautifully out loud. It's the little things in life...

As we wondered back from the court I saw these tiny white snails all over the plants -- on a quick glance they could be flowers, but are most definitely not. Can you imagine that in harder times the locals actually ate these teensy things?

I've pretty much adopted Saline now. She spends much of her time with us (and Filou of course). The kids adore her, and her calm and gentle temperament is just too lovely. Now that she's stopped scarfing down Filou's food (or perhaps she just doesn't care for the organic option?), she's a far better guest.

So now I've my two kids, four boarders and two dogs... one on temporary loan. A warm, full and vibrant household.

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