All of us mad scribblers, we chafe against one another, hustling, jostling for place, while others remove themselves from the fray. Envy always bites just a little...
The moon rose waxy yellow in the sky. I wiped down the car windows, got in , turned on the defoggers, the lights, the music, and the windshield wipers for good measure. Good thing for a coyote soon crossed the road on the opposite lane, then ran up the yellow dividing line on the highway, before crossing my lane. I braked,waiting for it to lope back to the woods.
The morning was still pitch black, but it was the first warm day in a long while. It would hit 72 in the city,but not for hours yet. Now, a frightened doe hopped across the highway. I just made the bus, and bus made it to the city early, where I worked for several hours before heading out to the Fenway.
The flowers are carefully tended over the winter, and their voluminous lengths are carried like Vassar’s graduation Daisy Chain to hang from the balconies of the museum. They are only around for a few precious weeks , and last year, there had been some horticultural problem. Now, they blaze bright, plumes of orange and yellow and green, rich as Rapunzel’s hair, were it made entirely of flowers.
If you are in the area, run to the Gardner, but not on Tuesdays, when they close.
There’s also cake in the cafe, made with nasturtiums and strawberries.
I heard the coyotes again last night– arise of yelps pitched high with barks. I once saw them a year ago circle in the horse farm, late at night. Was it coyotes New Englanders heard when they condemned women as witches at Salem? They did the same in England. The sound is unearthly, frightening, because there is an edge of agitation, animal unease. I thought my cats would dive under the bed at the sound last night, but they were merely alert, curious for a while.
Now it is later, and it has been raining since yesterday. A gaggle of geese and ducks are swimming in the neighbor’s lake that two days ago was a field. The horses still have pasture, but I their coats are wet and dirty from rolling in the mud. The white horse died a month back, from age, I think. She did not want to get up, but when pushed, her owners walked her around the pasture. I spied from a window, unable to move away, as they called the vet. Later, a day later, a bulldozer came to dig a grave, and she was buried. She was old. When I fed her carrots last summer, she was hungry, but could barely chew. A new horse came to stay in the fall. So the number is back to five. I wanted to offer my condolences, but did not know what to say, or how. Still, I might have gone down to the farm, to show my respect.
A circle of condos surround the horse farm, and I have been told that long ago, children rode horses where I live now. I am in my third and possibly final spring at the Long Term Residency at The Fine Arts Work Center, and since I moved in, I have been grateful for the presence of the horses. Today I am grateful for the rain which seems to finally usher in the season, though there might be urban flooding.
If this were a Garcia Marquez story, a very old man with enormous wings would appear in a backyard. Maybe he already has. As it is, the geese honk, the rain patters, and the cats are busy watching and bathing.
As I finish up this post, the rain has given way to wind, howling.
I found Hotel du Dragon on Rue du Dragon, a small street which connected with St -Germain -de -Pres. Entering the dark lobby, I rang the bell for the concierge. I dislike ringing bells for people, and I wonder if my entrance was heard. In any case, I think the concierge was having her meal with the family. I was asked to pay in cash when my reservation was found, and given a key and shown my room. Up a staircase to a small room, which had comfortable soft bed, and a zinc Napoleonic bathtub, more deep than wide. Later, I would learn all about Hotel du Dragon because later, there would be an internet. I thought it was a hole in the wall hotel, forgetting that no other than the daughter of my British agent had arranged the room for me, and she must have known what would appeal.
There used to be a website for the hotel, which highlighted the rich literary history of the hotel, but the present website is more practical than romantic. Richard Hugo lived at 30 Rue du Dragon, a medieval street, which in 1991, boasted only a forlorn pizzeria cafe at the end of the street. I set off for Cafe de Flores very next day, and had a perfect cup. Outside, men read newspapers, student tourists talked to one another. My Paris was everyone’s Paris, but still mine.
I would like to go back to that hotel, and see what I can remember, or start again. I wound up moving hotels after just a night, because I had a peculiar anxiety of being able to exchange my American Express checks for cash to pay the bill. So I looked up a hotel in a borrowed copy of Let’s Go Paris, packed my small suitcase, and called a cab whose driver raised his eyebrows when I told him my destination was Hotel Americain. It was a block away. I could have walked, I remember thinking, laughing out loud with the cab driver. (Looking up Hotel Americain on the internet just now, I see it is located in the another arrondissement, so either the hotel re-located or changed hands. My memory? Mais non!) Nevertheless, I found a room, a dozen or so flights up, with a tiny balcony, with a shower several flights down. I almost immediately locked myself in by accident, or thought I did, but the resulting drama enabled me to meet two charming traveling companions. Accompanied by baguettes and brie, we set off for Chartres the next day.
I have started a new online writing course with Cynthia Morris. In it, we explore our Paris, write, and complete a short story in a moth’s time. There is a small online community, a host of images, and prompts. My Paris is very small, steeped in a memory of a trip taken in 1991 to visit my French publisher and meet the French translator of my first novel. That novel will have a brand new life as an e-book from my American publisher.
I spent three nights, four days in Paris, and I can recall nearly every hour, from the rough crossing on the hovercraft( where my seat-mate grimaced and efficiently handed me the bag provided for such occurrences when I mentioned I felt a little sick. The concierge or the hover hostess then quickly came by to take away the contents of my lunch, bagged and warm in my hands.
In Dover or Calais, I boarded a train bound for Paris, headed for Hotel du Dragon, on rue du Dragon. My new seat-mate, shocked on discovering I did not yet have my metro tickets, immediately opened her purse to give me some. My love-affair with France began.