It’s the last week of what we all think of as summer (though, officially, we have until September 21st, as my niece pointed out to me this week!) and people, everywhere, are indulging in that last swim, that last beach picnic, that last long drive home, sandy and tired, ready for a good shower and a familiar bed.
In our house, we had my son’s godfather and sometime-Frenchly-contributor, Craig Pospisil, visiting from New York City with his daughter, Dillon, who calls me, “Aunt Caitlin,” which I love. They gave us a good reason to make that herbed potato salad we never made this summer, but wanted to, and then to eat it on the beach; to cook lobster and then crack into it late, in the cool of the evening, now with candles, as it’s getting darker earlier. With them, we indulged in splurges of ice cream and two and, even, three-swim-days.
Not far away, in my mind’s eye, is the time we had as a family in France this summer. I’ve been wondering what good memories my kids will carry with them as they start school next Tuesday. I think, but can’t prove, that good memories fortify a person, like a kind of armor, as they plunge once more into whatever breach is facing them.
For me, the end of summer is bittersweet. I like the cooler mornings—this morning was very chilly where I am, brisk enough for slippers!—and I like getting back to the hard tacks of work and out of the foggy dreaminess of summer. But on the other hand, I miss having my kids and their friends in and out, the screen door driving me crazy, crash-bam, crash-bam! I miss morning swims and late night swims and I miss that expansive feeling that anything is possible, we just need to shape the day to fit our wants.
This week, I was editing Karen Karbo’s new Rue du Soleil about the game of Pétanque, and I was remembering the mouth-watering-and-tingling cactus sorbet we ate (nightly) at a small shop, called Saveurs d’ Antan, down a cobblestone street in Collioure, just up from the briny Mediterranean Sea. I was thinking about the supposedly gluten-free bread we bought from the organic grocery store on the Rue de la République, made from chestnut and other GF flours (but tasted almost too good and too suspiciously chewy to be true!) I was thinking about the little fishing boats tied up in the small harbor and the smells of crêpes cooking all over the town. And I was remembering listening to Queen with my kids and all of us dancing around our airbnb and how free and happy we all felt. I have been thinking about how I hope we can go back, soon—not just to France, though I hope that, too—but to that feeling. That we won’t just beat on, boats against the current and forget.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisiner, regarder et lire):
If you aren’t in NYC this weekend, you might get inspired by this restaurant review in the New Yorker of three great New York City fried chicken joints and you’ll cook up a big pile yourself to manger over the long weekend. Maybe you’ll take a basket, sit in a park for a pic-nique, and then watch this new François Ozon movie, Peter von Kant, a remake of a Fassbinder classic reviewed by Andrea Meyer for us today. Or perhaps, like me, you’ll be inspired by our intern Charlinda Banks’ essay about re-watching Meeting the Man, a documentary about James Baldwin, to chop up a big salad with some of summer’s last and best and ripest tomatoes, olives, and some mozzarella, too, and sit down in the cool evening and go back in time with Baldwin as your muse. (While I am here, thank you Charlinda for the amazing—remote—work you did this summer for us. You were terrific. We hope you have a wonderful fall semester back at my alma mater of Brown!)
Wherever you are, Reader, I hope you get a few more moments to read this weekend in a hammock (maybe while nursing a cold beer) or in bed (with a nice cup of tea) with all the windows open and the crickets chirping outside. Maybe you’ll read one of our stories and it will inspire you to watch, read, cook, eat or dream in French. Because it will be the small moments–les plaisirs minuscules–I continue to believe, that we will remember and cherish through the long winter when we need a boost or a lifeboat!
Photo credit, above: Daniel E. Davis