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Posts tagged ‘Europe’

I’m back…je rentre

Salut!

Nearly 6 months gone, but I have made my way back to Paris and decided that it is high time for me to start blogging again. I have missed my cyber friends and the challenge of writing (almost) daily. And I have missed my France.

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Repatriation is never easy, and mine has been no exception. Truth be told, this is my second trip back to Paris since we moved back “home”. The first time I didn’t feel settled enough in either of my two worlds to share my observations and thoughts, and I felt I might be too critical of my new, but old, life in the U.S. of A.

These days, I am feeling like I am in a good place, although I am still struggling to figure out how to find my balance with one foot in Colorado and the other foot in France. I am grateful for Superman’s continued patience with me, as it just might take a man (and woman) of steel to sort out this new chapter of our lives together.

I have found a good handful or two of things I love about Colorado: easy and genuine smiles, lovely neighbors, siblings who only seem to be getting nicer the older we get, sensible shoes, colorful clothing, turbocharged clothes dryers, effortless banking transactions, clean and free public toilets, cheerful customer service, simple access to health and fitness facilities, the great outdoors, and 300-days-of-sunshine a year. In fact, there are some days I even find it easy to agree that everything is “AWESOME!”…as we Americans like to say.

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But as I step back into the City of Light, I am crushed with reminders of the many things I love (and miss) about France, and filled with gratitude for my circle of Paris girlfriends who nurture me, inspire me and make me laugh out loud.

So, I’ve decided to restart the blog and add a minor change to the title. The next weeks will focus mostly on Paris with a sprinkling of antidotes and happenings from my small-town western life. Maybe the very act of writing will help me figure out how to mesh my two worlds together. I am excited to be back in the blogosphere and very much look forward to writing, photographing and posting.

Back to blogging

Thank you to all of you who have sent me personal notes over the last few months and encouraged me to keep writing, and also to those of you in Cyberland who have continued to visit and comment on my blog and kept my stats growing.

Alors, on y va, here we go again…

Vocabulaire

on y va: let’s go

No. 341: Tuscan Wines

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On my short visit to Tuscany I have discovered many things to love, not the least of which are the wine, and the lovely and genuine winemakers and sellers we have had the pleasure of getting to know. I have entirely enjoyed the Chiantis and the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. I think what makes Tuscan wine so divine for me is the whole experience: the luminous young grapes, the tidy, leafy vineyards and the rolling vistas that scatter their blues and greens like waves breaking on the sand. It is nice to take the time to really taste and chat and feel the harvest’s link with the land—to be in the moment and greet the terroir.

Vocabulaire

terroir: the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. “Literal-minded fundamentalists love to call terroir the soil and climate of a specific vineyard, but in truth it’s about husbandry, about sensitivity to place and its careful management so that the best of things can be delivered of it.”

No. 334-339: Five + 1 Things to Love About Tuscany

I know it is another stretch of a post to add Tuscany to things I love about France, but very simply, we would not have driven to Italy if we didn’t live in France. Travelling down through the south of France, we thought, “What the heck, let’s go to Tuscany!” It has been on the bucket list forever, and there is no time like the present, non?

So far we have not been disappointed, although, I don’t know about the whole under-the-Tuscan-sun-thing. For most of the time we have been under the Tuscan clouds, but yesterday, the sun finally came out. That said, the light has been extraordinary in the clouds, mist, and sunshine, and the family time more than precious. Even for this dedicated Francophile, it has been nice to have a short break from France (although there are so many French here, some days it feels like we never left). The Italians have been gracious and gregarious (except for the Florentines, who can definitely give the Parisians a run for their money on the unpleasant and rude front) and the food, of course, has been fantastic.

Here are a few favorite things I have notice (and loved) about Tuscany on this trip:

Laughing out Loud Loudly

I had not realized how much I miss hearing other people laugh out loud loudly. It is so very rare to hear French people laughing out loud without reserve in public. In Italy it seems like a requirement to laugh out loud.

I am a big laugher, not an annoying one, but I do like to laugh, so being back in a culture where it is okay to express your happy self in public is terrific. I also love watching (and hearing) Tuscans talk to each other. At first I thought every conversation was an argument, but it seems like they are simply just very animated (loud) here. It is liberating to not feel like you have to be reserved and talk in hushed tones all the time. As much as I love the quiet restaurants in France and the French desire to keep their private lives (and observations) to themselves, it has made me quite happy to see strangers laughing it up in public and wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

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The Lack of Litigiousness

Compared to the USA, both Italy and France fall in line with this lovely lack of litigiousness. We enjoy the fact that it is possible in both countries, to do and see things that in America would be a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen. In the States you can sue anyone for anything. No one takes personal responsibility for anything.

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If you trip on a crack and slightly injure yourself on your neighbor’s driveway in Colorado, go ahead and sue them. The potholes are too big after a huge snowstorm and your scalding hot MacDo coffee burns your leg as you drive down the highway? Sue the city for the lack of immediate street maintenance and Mickey D’s for making their coffee too hot. In France and Italy it is the opposite. Climb a narrow winding 700-year-old staircase with your enthusiastic dog, but without railings or proper lighting to capture the perfect sunset over Siena, do it at your own risk. Ride the crazy whirly-doo at the local town fair without seatbelts and be encouraged to stand up and dance in the middle and drag a few strangers with you, bien sûr! Have as much fun as you want. Just remember, it was your decision, you are responsible for the outcome.

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Piazzas

Italians do plazas and grand gathering spaces really, really well. As much as I love café sitting in Paris, it is just not the same as sitting in the sunshine in one of these grand piazzas and being overwhelmed by the history of those who have come before you, and those who are living the experience with you at the moment. Nothing beats an Italian Piazza for people watching.

Prosecco

The Italian’s answer to the French’s champagne. I love them both, but sipping Prosecco with your family and friends on your terrace overlooking Chianti is pretty darn magical.

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source: wikipedia

Burnt Siena Rooftops

The rooftops in Tuscany are very different from the Paris rooftops, but equally as lovely. After spending a few weeks in Tuscany, I now understand where all those colors in the 100-pack Crayola crayons come from. The rolling waves of tiled tops make me want to paint.

Teeny Tiny Cars

As I have posted previously, I am nutty for the teeny tiny cars of France. (Remember I come from the environmentally unfriendly land of the mighty SUVs and Humvees.) So while in Italy, I have forced my family to stop every time I see an adorable mini car. Cliché moi especially loves the itty-bitty Fiat 500.

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No. 333: Tuscan Sunsets

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