Tuesday, June 22, 2010
life imitates art
We bought the book, Katie Meets the Impressionists, at the museum shop the first time we visited the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. In the book, Katie, in search of some flowers to give to her grandmother travels in and out of several classic impressionist paintings, including this one, from Renoir.
Having read the book so many times, even adding our own fragrantly irreverent twists to it, and having seen the original poppy paintings at the museum, made it extra fun to finally stumble across the magical sight of a real live field brimming with real live poppies.
When I found out that the French word for poppies was coquelicot, pronounced, coke-uh-lee-koh, I repeated it over and over, like a child. What a perfect word for a perfectly flirty flower. They call to you like bold coquettes, but their beauty fades in an instant when you try to make them yours.
As much as I urged the kids not to bother picking them, because, so attached to their birthplace are they, poppies do not live for more than half an hour when plucked from their turf, both Esther and Isla got back into the car clutching magnificent flashing-red bouquets in their fists.
I can relate to the poppies tendency to sag and wilt when taken away from all that they have ever known as home. I have been feeling a bit wilty, a bit saggy, lately. Even when looking upon the most perfect pastoral scenes, hillside orchards, swaying oaks, green meadows filled with black and white cows, I still can't help smelling the air of foreignness that hangs heavy, like a flooded tent roof, over everything. Still.
And I wonder if I might just weep upon crossing the instantly -recognizable border into Vermont from Massachusetts when we go home, for a visit, in August. And after weeping, I wonder if I again may grow plump and bright, alert, like a poppy, magically returned to her soil. And I wonder if it will be hard, or easy, for me to return to France after having dipped my toes, and my naked body, once again, into the icy, fresh- mountain streams, and breathed in the sultry air, smelled that third cut of freshly- mown hay, and slapped my first mosquito of the summer.
I wonder and I wait.
And, of course, I keep submitting posts over here.