Spending a part of winter in Paris was how I decided to end 2016. To begin the new year in my beloved “Other” home was a Christmas gift to self. Spending a quiet post holiday experience while it was winter in Paris, would provide the right atmosphere to just be still. Anytime of the year is a good time to consider Paris. Winter in Paris lends itself to moments of unanticipated joy.
This day,in particular, was quite magical. The cool air graced my face and a gentle rain fell. My first stop was at the base of the Basilica Sacre Couer. Like a sugar sculpture standing guard at the top of the hill, the view is one that is quite memorable. One could walk up the steep steps (well worth it on the right day) or take the Funicular – which is like a lift of sorts. This was not part of my mission on this rainy day. I used the Sare Couer as a place to get my bearings. I was on a quest to find beautiful fabrics to bring back home and create a memory.
To coin a phrase, a funny thing happened on the way to the fabric district. The fabric and notion stores are found adjacent to Anvers Metro. I wanted to explore a little and disembarked at Barbes-Rochechouart Metro. It all looked familiar at first. Merchants with everything from clothing to shoes to trinkets lined the streets. Having spare time I wandered aimlessly seeking familiar landmarks. On this day, the familiar landmarks were nowhere to be found. My walking carried me further away from where I wanted to be. I happened upon flowers in front of a store that whispered for me to take a peek. It was such a welcome sight, especially since it was winter in Paris.I needed to pause, so I gingerly turned the door knob and entered.
I was greeted in unison with “Bon Jour Mademoiselle” by the young man who was moving boxes and a sweet voice diligently wrapping a bouquet. I nodded as I embraced the sweet smells, the tasteful vases, and unique Christmas ornaments. It was just enough holiday decor to not overwhelm and more than enough single stems as well as bunches of flowers enticing me to linger.
My French needs a lot of work – seriously – but this gentle young woman worked with me to find what I was looking for. The perfect ornament for a very dear friend.
The smiling Proprietress of Ipomea assisted me graciously. Retrieving my ornament from the window, wrapping it in tissue, and finding the perfect box that would travel well. I explained that I was a gardener writer from America and that her shop was the bright spot on this damp winter day. Even with a small language barrier, we chatted for quite some time about flowers. Her name was Eva Boutolleau and it was a pleasure to meet and spend time with her.
I had to end my visit after getting directions on how to actually get to Anvers and the fabric stores. I cannot think of a better distraction during winter in Paris, than a flower shop like Ipomea. We exchanged business cards and I promised to work on my French before I returned. Turning the wrong way, even with directions, I mentally floated on the memories of my visit to a French flower shop. I like to think that the language of flowers is international. The opportunity to chat with a florist who understood this passion was simply amazing. If you are ever in Paris, Ipomea is worth the wander. Should you choose to wander, be sure to tell Eva I sent you or visit her Facebook page @27CuistineParis18
Twenty minutes later, I finally found what I was looking for….fabrics.
More fabrics….there were, even more, fabrics that made the long journey worth it! The opportunity to touch and feel fabrics that come from some of the better-known design houses is an experience. To afford a remnant is priceless. This year’s bounty included a slice of cashmere, a bit of mohair and a few notions.Each time I go to Paris there are a few things that I just cannot pass up. Fresh flowers to enhance my daily joy, fabric store excursions, The House of Chanel (I just gaze through the window and dream, each and every time)
and the Eiffel Tower. One day I will muster up the courage to actually enter the House of Chanel and ask to touch the staircase. A dream of my youth that will one day become a reality. Coco Chanel was a designer that I admired as I dreamt of becoming a fashion designer. Coco seemed to have chutzpah and a wonderful sense of style. It was my mission to find the apartment of the infamous Coco Chanel. No matter the season, in Paris, dreams can come true. You must be willing to wander and allow Paris to happen to you. During this past winter in Paris, I allowed unanticipated joy to happen.
Winter in Paris is just as exciting as any other season…you just have to be willing to wander. A chosen tour allowed me to wander even more….
(I will be posting several delayed posts. When I returned from Paris, I lost my Best Friend and Garden Buddy. I had to pause as I embraced this life change, however life goes on. Honoring my Father through my words….)by
I wanted to take a pause to say Thank You to an organization that I joined two years ago. I have to tell you that I have been smiling ever since.
G – GROWTHGreat resources that allow one to grow as a garden communicator. From regional meet ups to newsletter articles that inspire one to travel near and far, cultivating a deeper relationship with the garden. GWA grows better communicators.
W – WISDOMWonderful connections to writers, teachers, researchers, nursery owners and fellow garden wanderers who speak the same language. After all, the garden is never finished, so you have to return again and again and again.GWA encourages learning.
A – ACCEPTANCE
Acceptance of skills and expertise, whether you are a novice, an accomplished author or a person who communicates about the earth and the gardens we create on it.Advice freely shared to help each other collectively. GWA cultivates friendships.
There are not many organizations that I have come across where ideas are freely exchanged and you just feel like family….from day one. Every year there are regional events that encourage fellowshipping with local members. Even if you do not attend all of them, attending even just one is a real eye opener. Last year the Annual Meeting was held in Atlanta Georgia and it was sincerely a terrific time had by all!!! This year we are embarking upon Buffalo, New York and I am sincerely excited about this inspirational journey. To see how others interpret beauty in the garden is always exciting as well as educational.
I LOVE MY GWA and can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017….Come on August!by
Every year, in the month of November we celebrate the art of giving thanks. People demonstrate giving thanks by having huge dinners, potlucks or by just saying the words Happy Thanksgiving. I have spent the last few days really considering all that I am thankful for.
Concern for the unknown future of the economy or even life as we know it, I reflected upon the things I have been blessed with – my family, my job, my home, my garden – just to name a few. While none of these things are perfect (perfection means boring in my world) they each bring me a huge amount of joy. I KNOW my family will always be there, prayerfully my job is secure, my house has been standing for 58 years with no signs of falling over anytime soon (just repairs) and then there is the garden. Ah, in the midst of everything, I always have the garden.
My garden is not perfect, yet it brings me joy. From the unanticipated blooms in late fall…
to the expected blooms of the season.
The roses did and continue to do well, in spite of the drought and extreme heat of the past summer. I am thankful that they do not require much, yet continue to bring me joy. The Japanese Maple is flaunting her colorful leaves as she stands guard in the shade garden over the perennials preparing to rest.
I am thankful that every year, I am eternally amazed at her colorful sharing of the beauty that surrounds us. The peony leaves are standing tall, gracefully submitting to the cooler temps of the season. I am thankful that they have traveled with me from one home to another and have survived the journey. The peony speaks to my life story of adapting to changes – expected and unexpected. I am thankful for the Camellias, planted somewhere around every corner on purpose.
Thankful that they do not require much attention and yet every Spring and Fall, they provide the promise of blooms, no matter the weather….but at the precise moment that I need to see something in bloom.
I considered how much weight my feeling of thankfulness carried this year in earnest. My daughter cooked a wonderful feast with all the trimmings, my grandsons enjoyed every single morsel….and then some. My sister outdid herself and had a feast fit for a royal family. I still felt as though I need to give back for all of the blessings I have received.
Thanks + Giving……was how I kept seeing the word. We always focus on the Thanks….but how do we give?
As I looked at my surroundings in my quiet time, I decided to give, as I am truly Thankful for everything I have. I cleaned out my closets of excess clothing, shoes, and purses that another woman might be able to use to re-enter the workforce. It was the best time I have had on a Black Friday, Post – Thanksgiving weekend in quite a while!! Remembering why I had bought certain items, when I bought other things and the warm feelings as I gently folded each garment, tucked each pair of shoes and placed each purse into the bags. I am Thankful that I am able to freely give these items to a local organization that will in turn GIVE them to people who need something nice, to uplift their spirits and will only cost them the effort of picking out a garment. I was a bit emotional as my grandson and I unloaded 9 large green bags off my truck. I not only gave to those in need, I demonstrated what it means to GIVE for my grandson. A lesson given that will stay with him as something to be embraced and to become a ritual. I hope I have planted a seed on what it means to GIVE.
Between the blooms in my garden and the memories of why I am Thankful….this has been the best Thanksgiving Ever!!! To be Thankful for the Blessing of being able to Give……..just a good feeling deep within!
I hope each of you enjoyed Thanksgiving and remember what this word means all year-long!!
From the Cottage in the Court,