Sunday, May 22, 2011

Who sent us this book?

I found a package, delivered by my tenant, yes I still have a tenant, on the already- cluttered passenger seat of my car the other day. I did not recognize the return address; someone, somewhere, in North Carolina.

Curious, I ripped through the yellow envelope reinforced with packing tape to find a book-- this book you see above-- inside. Nothing else. No note. No explanation. No sign of who on earth sent it to me. It's mysterious. It's fun. It's intriguing. It's driving me crazy trying to figure out who my secret Santa, or is it secret Freud, is.

The book, called 1001 Reasons to Love America, is a particularly apt gift for us right now. I am assuming one of my readers, one of you, thought I could use a reminder-- as well as a way to practice our French-- of why we returned to our "homeland."

They were right. We did. We do. And we love it. Thank you.

As much as I am still in shock-- culture shock, geography shock, ecology shock, insect shock, family shock-- we are encountering reminders every day of things we know, remember, and love. Most particularly at the end of the day, when the sun starts to flirt on its way down behind the mountains in hopes we will fall asleep dreaming of butterscotch.

Last night, on our walk home from visiting friends, that flirty sun backlighted two teenage girls playing toss and catch, mitts in hand, with a softball on a vast, freshly-mown green lawn.

"I love seeing girls playing all these sports," Esther said, in a perfect impression of me.

(This from a girl who came home that afternoon with grass and dirt sticking out of her sock tops, after a raucous soccer match. Who says girls aren't aggressive?)

I saw a similar scene a few nights before, in the form of a solitary, skinny boy throwing a baseball at a hand-made cardboard box target, practicing his pitching perhaps, in his driveway. That scene, while so infused with pure Americana, made me think of all the energy we spend trying to force our kids to do things-- practice this, practice that, study this, study that-- when, as it so often turns out, if you give them time and space and quiet, they might just hear their passions calling them out to the driveway, or the mountains, or the drum set in the garage, or the library, and you don't need to say a thing.

Coincidentally, just the other night, before receiving this patriotic book, Esther discovered a little American flag here at my parents' cabin and used it as a prop to stage her own patriotic parade of silliness.

 Long story short: Whoever you are, thanks for thinking of us, whoever you are.


cecile said...

Not me, but I will try to find it, it sounds great !

zenmamasan said...

Not me either! Wished I had thought of such a clever thing. I'm thinking I need to read it. I, too, am culture shock-ridden, and I live here. :)

Megan said...

Ce n'├ętait pas moi!
... mais I have been thinking of you and your sweet family often and have been meaning to send my well wishes. We're missing you terribly over here in France! How on earth did you get out of here so fast? The time it took you to pack up a life and move it to another country is about the same time it took me to finally take down the laundry hanging up my bathroom. Good on ya, Betsy. Good on ya!
Anyhow, cheers to a beautiful summer in glorious Vermont!

Living Down Under said...

How lovely! And terribly intriguing! Wasn't me either but I'm thinking I'm going to need one of those...or something like it..."1001Raisons d'aimer la neige" perhaps? Or maybe "life's not a beach, get used to it!" :)

Sounds like you guys are settling in nicely. As usual, your photos are gorgeous. And your little girl looks like she's grown taller... :)

Lauren Alaniz said...

Intriguing and maddening!

I had a similar thing happen at my wedding. Inside an unmarked envelope left in the pile of gifts were 3 8x10 pictures of current astronauts- all addressed to me with well wishes on my wedding. LOVE it- but WHO? HOW? WHY?

I hope you find out, though I will readily admit it makes a better story if you don't!

Betsy said...

Thanks, Megan. I have no idea how we got out of there so fast, or why so fast. But I have always hated leaving, so fast is the only way. Like pulling off a bandAid. Too bad I can't remember where anything is. Isla just asked me about all her "necklaces" in France. "I don't remember where I put them honey, and, honestly, we may never see them again." Sorry. It's all a blur at this point. We have the clothes on our back, and a few books with us, the rest is in a heap at the farmhouse, waiting to be shipped. Poor Ian.

Emma said...

wow, that is so cool! I hope you find out who sent it, and of course share the answer with us ;)

The pictures and your imagery of the evening scenes around your place made me jealous... today is blustery and cold and all the kids have sore throats and runny noses.

Anonymous said...

I *LOVE* the "art" you "paint" with your photography! You're using a digital camera, aren't you? I would love to know what you're doing -- if you know what you're doing : ) -- or if they just come out that way. I absolutely love them! They really capture "breathlessness" of childhood, I think.

And I'm not so sure this is something Ester is going to want to hear but ... she's looking more and more like you in every picture, I think : ) That's a compliment!! She's really growing up and becoming a little lady (as my Mom and Gramma would say).


Betsy said...

adrianne: I don't know what I'm doing. I just can't stop following my kids around with my camera. I have a panasonic Lumix and my pics are much nicer now, more rich and textured, than they were with my old Canon. I don't fiddle with the settings at all, I'm not a handbook reader. My hubby is a professional photographer and tries to teach me stuff but I start glazing over and he knows I'm not listening so he gives up. :)

Kathleen Trail said...

The suspense is still killing me on this one. No updates? :)

Also, on a side note, do you mind sharing which model of Panasonic Lumix you got? We're in the market for a new camera and I'm willing to try anything that will allow me to capture the beautiful motion of my kids the way you do...

Betsy said...

Kathleen Trail: It's a Panasonic LUmix DMC-FH20. I'm liking it. Idiot proof. Here's a link to the page on the Panasonic site:

Betsy said...

P.S. I haven't figured out the mystery but it just occurred to me to send a post card to the return address and say, "We don't know who you are, but we love our new book. Thank you."