La rentrée — the return: So . . . we’ve returned to the states, but we haven’t completely reacclimated yet. France lingers on in our habits and preferences. I really miss speaking French and the excitement of small successes like actually carrying on a sustained conversation in French for an hour and a half. And I keep wanting a tartine for breakfast, which is just toasted day-old baguette with my favorite Noirmoutier butter and Bonne Maman 4 Fruits confiture (jam), but . . . yum, and so far, unfortunately, impossible to find. David doesn’t seem to miss that, but we do miss the rhythm of life in France. And we really miss quiet. Everything feels WAY TOO LOUD. We spent the first night in Boston and had dinner in the hotel, where so many people seemed to be bellowing across the restaurant at each other, we finally paused our attempt to have a French-style quiet conversation, and just looked at each other and started laughing.

The next morning we caught the Dartmouth Coach up to New London, New Hampshire, and heard the entire two-hour conversation of a couple FOUR ROWS in front of us. Sheesh.

Then we spent a couple of nights here . . .

New London Inn Front Corner

New London Inn Sign. . .  where one of the waitresses was so loud, I kept flinching when she talked. We really need to toughen up! We’ve been loud-talkers for years. How many people used to flinch when we talked? Yikes. Strange to be on the other side of it.

Aside from that, though, it’s been good to be back. We were able to help David’s mom with the final steps of getting the lake house closed up for the season, like clearing out fridges, freezers and cupboards. Then we spent three nights at their new winter house, where we could be handy for hanging pictures, towel rings and rods, curtain rods, etc., and help will all the other little settling-in tasks that seem to take forever.

I was afraid we had missed all the beautiful New England fall foliage, but the leaves were not all down. Woohoo!

Fall Maple

The original plan was to spend three nights in Brooklyn, but we cancelled that to be of more help to Helen. Very busy few days, but fun to be there to see it come together.

Friday morning we hit the road and drove down to Alexandria, Virginia, to see Chelsea. Beautiful tree-lined turnpikes most of the way, with lots of gorgeous fall color like above and this . . .

Scenic stop along the New Jersey Turnpike
Scenic stop along the New Jersey Turnpike

Now we’re back in very picturesque Alexandria . . .

Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia

. . . where wonderful old red brick walls are everywhere.

We had a stunningly delicious dinner here . . .

Chart House Enhanced

. . . to belatedly celebrate Chelsea’s birthday, and we’ll have the rest of this week here with her. More about that later, I’m sure.

So life goes on. There’s a watercolor in the cottage we’re renting this week that seems to be a loose rendering of a landscape, maybe dunes with seagrass–it’s hard to tell–but the first morning as I woke up, I found myself looking up at it from a different angle and so clearly saw the face of a young woman in a hat, her chin partly hidden by her right hand, I was convinced I had been blind the day before, and that was really what the painting was meant to be. Yet from the original perspective, she slips away. From somewhere in the middle, though, I can see both, and that’s when the painting is the most interesting of all. It made me wonder what life might–or maybe will–look like from a slightly French-flavored American perspective.

I’ll let you know. Now if I can just stop flinching.

4 thoughts on “Rentrée”

  1. Bonne continuation. Yes, reverse culture shock is hard.

    I had a funny experience while in France of a city bus packed full of loud Italian tourists who all got off at once like clowns exiting a clown car, and suddenly it was very quiet. The rest of the passengers, presumably French, took a huge breath of relief, muttered under their breath a bit, and we enjoyed the rest of the trip in silence. 🙂

    On another note, your photo of the cemetery with tree color is lovely. I have a friend who is a huge Taphophile (lover of cemetery art) and has a Facebook page with that name. Could I share your photo there?

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