Cezac 2, with Jean and Isabelle

Cezac Travel Blog

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June 7
Stephen:

We are now sharing our place in Paradise with the owners for the weekend. A task most pleasant.  We hear beautiful music coming out of their house.  We see them having breakfast at the bottom of their lawn. They explain the pool maintenance techniques, and then head off to have lunch with friends as we head to the markets to stock up with food because today’s the day we pick up Amber, Dawn's daughter, in Toulouse.

Toulouse airport is an hour and a half away.  We get there early and the plane is late.  But she arrives smiling and all the formalities are soon taken care of after which we head for home talking all the way and arrive before nightfall. Amber has gotten some sleep on the trip so she is amazingly unjetlagged and is full of news and stories and laughter. Is it midnight before we all go to bed?

When visiting small French villages, timing is all.  We took a drive on Sunday afternoon over to Castelnau which is the biggest tourist attraction of this particular area, and it seemed abandoned.  We walked around a bit and nothing struck us as particularly interesting.  We wondered if we were becoming inured.  But, we got into the car, and went back to Montcuq where we had hiked to the other day, and it still had the wonderful esprit that we had so enjoyed before.  We had Ricards and Amber a kir, walked around and drove home.

Dawn and I had been working on our decision making technique over the question of whether to return the Maheu’s gracious dinner of our first night with a dinner on the Friday of their return or wait until Sunday when Amber was here.  I wanted Sunday and Dawn wanted Friday. We had gotten into the habit of pre-digesting the discussions.  We both had been trying to figure out the compromise before we had really figured out we wanted individually.  Now we were trying to decide what each of us wanted first.

Our decision to do nothing and wait for another weekend was overridden by the news that this was to be their last weekend in Cézac until after we had left.  Dawn and Isabelle made a quick decision to make a joint meal, a cook-what-you-have-meal.

It worked out great. We were going to have dinner on Sunday but not have to worry about it all day instead we enjoyed Amber’s first day. So at 7:00, we moved our long inside table out to a nearly level space near their house, found candles, fired up the grill and started thinking about dinner.
Entrees
Grilled trout stuffed with onions and herbes de Provence
Grilled potatoes with sautéed asparagus
Viande
Grilled Spare Ribs with Mustard Sugar Sauce
Légumes Boiled
White Asparagus
Salade
Mixed Green Salad with 4 cheeses
Dessert
Sour Cherry Pie (Clafouti)
Boissons
Vin Rosé
Cherries in Schnapps
Bouteille d’eau

The food came from one kitchen then the other.  We talked, learned about their children, enjoyed their company.  Afterwards, around 11:00, we went inside their house for a tour, to de-stem some currants, and for mint tea.

For me a magical night of tranquillity, aware of all the sights and sounds, aware of Dawn and happy to have Amber with us.  Aware of a feeling of happiness rising of its own accord, to be measured against nothing else,  that reminded me of childhood.

On Monday a taxi arrived to take the Maheus to the train.  The taxi driver was a lady who asked if we were British. No, Dawn said, American. She exclaimed in French, “ Mais vous etes perdus!”, you are lost. That’s what we feel like out here lost to the world.  Later that day, we re-entered the world a little by going to Cahors for sightseeing and dinner. We finally went into the church that we had been shopping in front of. It is the first church I have ever walked down into.  In the cloister, a couple of guys were smoking weed and snorting cocaine off of a mirror.  An improvement over the family playing kickball.

Dawn:

Actually, I think the lady taxi-driver couldn’t imagine why we would be staying here instead of, say Paris or the Côte d’Azur. “Mais, vous etes perdus!” has become our new motto. Yes, we have deliberately lost ourselves here in La France Profonde with the hope that “Ye who are lost shall be found,” if you’ll pardon the Biblical reference. Having Amber here for a week pointed up the remoteness even more, she being 22 and accustomed to having lots of people around and lots of things to do that only a big city can offer.  However, she enjoyed some low-key chilling time by the pool, and I enjoyed being able to catch up with her life and thoughts. We had a nice, modest, 4-mile hike together (instead of the 14-mile shinbuster that Stephen and I did), went to Lauzerte together for exploring, a drink, and a food shop, and with Stephen did a day trip to the bastide towns of Cordes & Albi, and just generally hung out together.

Stephen:

Madam Pern came on Wednesday.  We were out by the pool.  She introduced herself and said a few things that none of us understood. Actually, we understood, but we all understand something different. Dawn thought she was going to pick herbs, Amber thought she was going to smoke marijuana, and I thought she was going to cut the grass. Imagine my surprise when a half hour later, I heard the lawn mower start. I took a little victory parade around the pool, but in retrospect realize she had time to do all three, so who really knows.

Later, I went and picked them up after their four mile jaunt.  For me a little nerve wracking because Dawn and I have a history of misunderstood rendezvous’s.  Once we waited on opposites side of the Charles River in Boston.  We took what seemed to be an hour to find each other in the Gare du Nord in Paris, and I worried that we would spend the rest of the evening wandering around, really lost in France Profonde. The gods were with us and we met as if the past had evaporated.

When you believe in progress, you don’t believe in the present. In France, the idea of progress, even though it was practically invented here, is a relatively new idea.  When a king or a farmer built their edifice,  they built it to last forever.  No one planned for the revolution or a new house.  You built for a now that was also the future.  America was a new idea from the start.  It was populated only by people willing or at least able to throw off the past. A country of second home owners.  It is not the case of “Best is the enemy of better”, but rather that better is the enemy of now. So here in Southern France, we find old buildings, because the people only built one house.  The houses work, they continue to work, nobody automatically tears them down when they get old.   The American Pioneer spirit demands that we keep moving, looking for a better life, with no mechanism to tell us when we have found it.

Which is to say, I liked Corde.  It was old, it was beautiful. Why can’t I live there?  It had lured artists there to give the tourists something to buy, but that’s a better solution than trucking in Tee shirts. Also, it had a research center for regional music in which Dawn spent an hour while Amber enjoyed chatting in French with the young shopkeepers.

It is time for all the choreographers on this list to rise up and choreograph more good dances for street festivals.  I am seeing too many bad pieces at festivals like Le Printemps de Cahors.  The artists here don’t seem to understand the restrictions placed on the work by the situation. The wandering audience member coming onto a plaza, or to an outdoor stage is in a totally different frame of mind than the one who has paid serious money to see something in a theater.  It is hard to make post modern detachment work outdoors. Dance is not photography.

Anyway, I didn’t like the two dance pieces I saw here, but I did like the photography.  A Japanese man from Osaka, Yasumasa Morimura, did a series a self portraits of himself dressed up as famous movie actresses in particular films.  Wonderful. In a beautiful cloister, a white box was set up in the middle to act as a four wall projection screen. The white, silent, rectangular photos against the sepia lit curves and arches of the cloisters was very powerful.  It looked as if it could take off or vibrate into nothingness.

Dawn:

One of the most beautiful visual effects at the festival was the projection of slides on huge sprays of water in the River Lot. Although we were standing next to a young man trying to pick up a young woman in English which was neither’s first language, it was still magical to watch the projected figures of such luminaries as Maurice Chevalier seem to float in the wind and evanesce into smoke.  What a simple and great idea!

OK, how many of you out there knew that Dennis Hopper was an excellent visual artist?  We all remember him in various cult films such as “Easy Rider” which he also directed.  Stephen and I were quite stunned by his work at the Cahors Festival. He did huge, close-up color photos of graffitied walls in Venice, Prague, and Florence, all of which looked like thoughtful, harmonious pieces of abstract art. I remember telling my friend Elena in Venice that it’s the color of the buildings that I found so beautiful. Many European cities seem to be characterized by a certain hue, from the ochre of Venice to the “Pueblos Blancos’” white of Andalusia to the pink brick of Toulouse, for example. Hopper focused in on the walls in a way that gave us the essence of the place without drawing it or spelling it out for us.

He also did a series of photographs from the sixties. Some of them were trendy artist portraits like Warhol, Johns, and Rauschenberg. However, he did some powerful documentation of Martin Luther King, jr. in Selma, Alabama in 1965. I stood for a long time in front of the picture of King speaking and looked at the serious expressions of the men surrounding him. It was such a painful and important time in American history and so powerful for our generation. I wondered if the French people there could possibly be as moved as I was by this photograph.

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Cezac
photo by: jsbuck1