I received an unexpected invitation to attend LAHTI INTERNATIONAL WRITERS' REUNION in Finland this June. What a great unexpected gift! I've always wanted to visit Finland, and am so looking forward to the other writers I'll meet there: https://www.liwre.fi/en/home/
Les cheveux pleins de confettis et les coeurs pleins de joie--Toulouse nous vous aimons! Hair full of confetti and hearts full of joy--Toulouse we love you! What a beautiful night of Carnival fun in Toulouse. I think I've never loved this city more.
owww.win-toulouse.org/?utm_campaign=67436ae7-63ce-45d8-a5a2-8f49619653c9&utm_source=sooking forward to my first event in Toulouse, tonight at the
The contrasts of life in Toulouse are worthy of a book. But for now, I’ll let these photographs speak: the weekly nocturnal disturbances of the Gilets Jaunes, police interventions, broken glass, tear gas, the fear that invokes, all that in contrast with our daily lives here, the beautiful red brick in the Rose City, the old stone lions, cobblestone streets, anti-social bicyclists intent on getting anywhere they want to no matter who is in the way, the street noise.
Despite the turmoil of the Gilets Jaunes protests that have rocked France, the city is lovely, full of markets, churches, lovely shops, great food. Walking these streets is such a gift:
I love that our gym in Florence allows kids to come in and hang out or play foosball while their parents work out. Another thing I love about our gym is that there is a big snack bar with cozy tables, selling cappuccino, chocolate raspberry tarts, and cornetti, right inside the entrance. Or the exit. Or both. What an inspiring way to start and end a workout!
Florence is exquisite. We are living in a city full of art! Not that life on the road is always easy. I miss the little conveniences, like washing machines, dishwashers, green grass in parks that you can actually walk on.
I have stopped running away when people speak to me in Italian. Sometimes I even answer them. So I guess that’s progress. But what comes out of my mouth is not Italian. It contains a bit of English, un soupçon of French, and a lot of mystery…but no Italian to speak of.
I was struck by this small chapel on the way to the medieval castle Le Belvoir. In English, it reads: "You who pass, see if there is any suffering as great as mine." But none of us, in any faith or from any land, has a monopoly on suffering...The other photo is taken just below the castle, looking out at the valley below.
We’ve landed here in the Franche-Comté region of France, right on the border with Switzerland. It will be hard to leave this place. The days are bright and cold; the wind never stops. I thought I would miss autumn entirely this year, but we drove across three countries and caught up with it. Clothes whip dry on the line in two hours. Cows in the pasture that abuts our backyard come over to investigate. Wherever we are, we hear the chime of cowbells in the wind.
We walk a few kilometers through a path that crosses woods and pastures to the top of a hill, where we find the Belvoir castle, a twelfth-century castle of grey stone. A solid older woman with a gracious smile takes our money and gives us tickets; a teenage boy guides us on a tour. The boy tells us that the portrait in the hall is of the woman who sold us our tickets, painted when she was sixteen. In the painting, she has linen wrapped around her head like a Bougereau peasant. How time transforms us all. There are few visitors, almost no tourists, but the locals never pass us without a “bonjour.” Few visitors come to this part of France.
It is a perfect day. The children and the dog careen ahead on the path. The grass shimmers. We fill our pockets with apples from wild trees that are so laden they spill their fruit everywhere. The air smells of cider. We pick windfall walnuts, wild mint. The horses watch us curiously as we pass.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Fieschi-Rose