My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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and now for something completely different

On our last day, my friend and I walked the city. I took her for her first visit to the Jardin des Plantes, full of people strolling on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My father’s tree, in bud last week, was in full bloom.

There are always interesting things to see on the streets and buildings.

Fuck your moral. Interesting. I feel so Parisienne with the scarf and stripy sweater, on sale at Monoprix, and yet – no one would ever mistake me for one.

We had a glass of mint tea nearby at the Grande Mosquée de Paris, a big mosque with a packed tearoom (and a hammam – for my next visit), and then went to dinner at a friend of Lynn’s near the edge of Paris, a professor at the Sorbonne with her husband and two young sons, a wonderful meal. They went last summer to New York for nearly 3 weeks, and I asked if they’d seen a show. “The show was in the streets!” her husband said. We talked a lot, of course, as everyone does around the world, about Trump, Marine Le Pen, immigration, Islam. The woman’s father was Algerian and her husband is Egyptian; their olive-skinned children, she said, look like the kind of people Trump wants to kick out.

Sunday, I took my leave of my dear friend at the Gare de Lyon, on my way to visit her husband in the south of France. I had a slight worry; Lynn booked the ticket for me on-line and didn’t realize she’d inadvertently booked not a non-stop direct train Paris-Avignon, but one with a change in Lyon. According to the ticket, I had 11 minutes exactly to leave one train, find the Avignon train, and drag my bag and backpack to another quai. I wondered if the timing was too tight. But of course, this is the unbelievably efficient, sleek, clean, fast French train system, and there was no problem at all. The trains are spectacular. You should all come to France just to see what a train system can be.

Denis, Lynn’s husband, was waiting in Avignon and we set off to their home in Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France. I could take a photo from a previous visit, because the view never changes, so I’ll find one for you at some point. They have a huge gorgeous house on the edge of the village, designed and built by Denis many years ago when their 5 children were young. Now Lynn and Denis live part of the time in Montpellier, where Lynn worked at the university and Denis now is the volunteer in charge of palliative care volunteers at the hospitals there. This house is their weekend home and also the centre for the family in the summer, when their 5 kids come from the 4 corners of the globe with their 8 children. Lynn says sometimes there are 25 at the table. But they’re used to that.

Denis is recovering from breast cancer surgery, but he’s strong and resilient. It was damp and chilly; we walked in the misty woods for an hour and a half.

On the way back to the house, a rare sight – friends greeting each other from their cars, one of them not often seen on these here medieval streets.

We made a simple supper – Denis is feeling the effects of chemotherapy and eats mostly vegetables – and talked and talked, about life, children, illness, getting old. I’ve known Denis nearly as long as Lynn – since 1970, when she first met him. He is very very French, and yet not, because he married a Canadian woman. A rare man in a beautiful quiet house in one of the loveliest villages of France – again, I am one lucky camper.

It’s the next morning – if this is Gordes it must be Monday. I was sitting in the sun on the white stone patio when I suddenly realized that I was pain-free. I’ve had back pain every morning for months, sometimes lasting all day, sometimes slowly diminishing. But today, it’s gone. Is it the bed, the birdsong, the fresh air, the fact that my trip is unfurling as it should? Who knows? I think it’s the cheese.

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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