Another picnic in the Jardin de Luxembourg, this time to meet Nell’s friends (from left to right, Robin Lisker from England, Robin ? from Chicago, and Sarah Keane from Ireland). What a great group of friends Nell has gathered, as she always does. She has had a wonderful year in France, crossing all sorts of shadow lines. (Dad used to use this metaphor from the Conrad book of the same name to describe those moments of growth when you discover you can make a phone call in French and get the gas turned on). I’m not sure how academically useful it has been, but as a year of growth it has been worth it, not to mentioned the ability to write bullshit in French.
Elliot and Pierre had us around for dinner (later in the week we took them to Le Grand Vefour). Their apartment in the Marais is large by Parisian standards, which is to say that they could fit us at all, at the expense of some furniture moving. Abby had just joined us at the end of her European tour … there was some competition between Abby and Nell to show knowledge of French politics.
Monday we went out to Bures to visit Kate and Terry, who are just about to leave for Terry’s new job in Zurich. It was raining, surprise surprise. We went to look at Sally’s elementary school, eliciting this reaction. Sally said that she was glad we had visited, because she had been thinking she would have liked to spend another year in Bures, but this reminded her of all the reasons why not, and the stroll around the Ormaille reminded her how little there was to do there! The old tree house is gone and the path to the woods overgrown. Perhaps the time when the Ormaille was full of families is gone. Kate and Terry were lovely as usual, and we saw Christiane as well.
Amy, Sally and I went to Paris to visit Nell. We arrived on Friday morning and, after checking into Jack’s Hotel, met up with Nell for a walk around her neighbourhood. We were drenched in a torrential downpour on the way back to her apartment, and sat eating cheese and drinking the Bordeaux she had picked up on her trip down there with friends. The next day we went to the Saxe-Breteuil marked near where she lives and picked up food for this picnic in the Jardin de Luxembourg.
Later that afternoon we visited the Panthéon nearby. We saw Foucault’s pendulum and had an interesting discussion about why the plane of its swing rotates (and why it does not rotate 360° in a day, which at first surprised me). Saw the tombs of famous people below, where I learned that “live free or die” was coined by Diderot, and Nell remarked on a moving quotation from ?, one of the authors of the UN declaration on human rights, to the effect that nobody was free while there was one person not free in the world.
It looks as if the algebra book is finally coming into some sort of shape.
Heard a couple of Lucy’s Warblers, and saw a probable female Yellow Warbler in the shady part of the wash at the north end, where the warblers usually hang out at this time of year. Also saw a fleeting glimpse of black and yellow fly across as I was walking back down again, possibly a Hooded Oriole or a Townsend’s Warbler.
Usual problem of determing whether this is a Brown-crested or a Dusky Flycatcher. I think the former based on the call. Saw a very interesting drooping pencil cholla, as if it had been bitten but not killed by frost.