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derniers mots de France

This au revoir will be like the Rolling Stones farewell tour – never-ending. The day is, as the weatherman said, lourd – heavy, breathless, raining sporadically – a perfect farewell day. A last stroll down the Boul Mich, a last jaunt to the Jardin des Plantes, which is dessicated now, these last days of summer.

I saw lots of the plants I hope to see tomorrow in my own jardin des plantes – buddleia, rudbekia, cosmos, leggy petunias. Importantly for me, there was an exhibition of very large close-up photographs of the faces and backs of insects – grasshoppers, moths, dragonflies, beetles – by the photographer Philippe Blanchot. I forced myself to look closely and admire these extraordinary creatures with their carapaces, their amazing eyes, their camouflage, their long proboscises. They look like monsters from outer space, truly, but they’re miraculously well-adapted creatures. I hope to come to appreciate them more, having left a trail of massacred beetles and grasshoppers in Gordes.
And couldn’t resist – one last trip to the same bakery that nearly made me faint with anticipation, my first days here, to buy a little lemon tart and a tarte tatin – eating them now with a cup of tea.
Since I leave tomorrow morning, I guess I can safely say now that not one of the disasters I feared most about this trip occurred. I did not get sick, my mother or children did not get sick, I did not lose the keys to a place I was staying in (which was my great terror because the keys are often so old, oddly sized and impossible to replace.) MacZine my beloved computer did not break. During the weeks I had left open and unplanned, I did not end up wandering the face of the earth, homeless and alone.
I did not worry beforehand about leaving my handbag on a train, or about the death of dear friends. So there you go – as I always say to my kids, it’s the things you don’t worry about that happen. No use worrying, then, is there?
Easy for you to say.
I have learned that another old friend, a woman exactly my age whom I’ve known all my life though she has always lived on the other side of the country, has cancer. I wrote her a letter this morning and mailed it from here, because I think it’ll get there faster across the ocean, thanks to the efficient French postal service, than from home. How unpatriotic is that?
A final farewell, then, to this sublime city, that has sheltered and inspired artists for centuries and sheltered me for seven glorious weeks. Merci mille fois.
A bientot.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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