Lucy Ferriss

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I've called this blog "Travelin' Thoughts" in the past, because I kept it mostly as a journal to record impressions of new places and cultures. But in a way, it's still a place for traveling thoughts--ideas that move through and past me, and out into the world. Some of these are literary, some just about life. It's a good place to open up the conversation, and I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Flowers of France, Rocks of Yosemite

June 28, 2015

 This IS a travelin' thoughts post, because my last two journey of the year proved to be journeys into the past as well as to far-flung places. Visiting a friend in Paris in late May, I realized that I have been back there every three years--sometimes more frequently--since I was thirteen. Partly because my beloved cousin Miranda de Toulouse-Lautrec lives there, but also because I fell in love with Paris the year my mother blew all her savings to take the family on a three-week tour of Europe. Cupid struck and has never withdrawn his arrow. I have worked there, studied there, taught there. I was planning, this time, to visit Miranda at her farm and then take in three days of Paris for the usual reasons and also to see a friend. Then, to my delight, at the last possible minute, my buddy and literary consultant Ann Patty decided to come along. Here we are outside the just-opened Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, an astonishing building at the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, which had one of the finest exhibits I have ever seen. Made an argument--clear, expansive, persuasive, and exhilarating--for the development of what we call contemporry art. Also had some fun gimmicks, like this set of reflecting columns by the lagoon on the outdoor lower level.

But before Paris, we were at the farm, L'Essart, outside Limoges, where we talked ourselves silly. Then wine-tasting and castle-hopping in the Loire. Stayed at a funky B&B across from the Sorbonne in Paris, where Ann convinced me to go to the Cluny Museum. I'd never been. Didn't realize it went back to the first few centuries A.D. Not to mention the splendor of The Lady and the Unicorn! Then a day with Rod Stein, with whom I traipsed around Europe 41 years ago. Lovely and amazing.

I was home for three weeks after that trip, but it felt as if I unpacked and repacked in a blink to go with Don to SF, where his sister and her husband celebrated their 50th (!) wedding anniversary. Much walking in and out of the fog, a visit with my cousin Alden and my nephew Tyler--family everywhere, one of my great bits of luck--and an afternoon looking at Turner paintings at the DeYoung. The Turner movie was so disappointing, even more now that we've made our way through perhaps six galleries of his strange, radical, often exhilarating work.

Then on to Yosemite, which we considered skipping because the waterfalls are at 7% of normal. But perhaps this is the new normal. Perhaps we'll never again see Bridalveil Falls in all its misty breadth. And the rocks themselves remain sublime. We hiked to Taft Point (from which Dean Potter launched his doomed flight a month ago) and to Sentinal Dome, then rented bikes. I did get a swim in the cold, cold waters of Mirror Lake in the Merced River. I had last been to Yosemite in 1979, in my first, unhappy marriage. Felt like a sort of redemption to return to the grand old Ahwahnee for lunch after a day of hot, dusty, gorgeous hiking, and sit across from the man I love now and forever.

Flying home, I could see in disturbing detail how dry the western half of our country has become, with climate change causing 16 years of drought. Can't imagine how anyone can witness that without alarm bells going off. But I also saw a circular rainbow for the first time. Here it is, some of it anyway.

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