The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Serenity Now!

The Pyrenees are in the background.
Skiers say that if you can ski the Pyrenees, you can ski anywhere.

       One of my favorite places on this planet is southern France. I've been three times, and hope to take my daughter and granddaughter next summer.

        Strange as it sounds, the only part of Paris I've seen is the inside of the airport. I am sure Paris is lovely and lively and alluring, but the peace and serenity of the southern countryside is what I love.

        The long, leisurely meals where conversation is just as valued as simply-made, everything-from-scratch dishes. The rolling hills. A lifestyle that is so much less stressful than ours.

         What is your favorite place? Why does it draw you? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

This Much I Know is True...

        If you're from out of town, and you wonder what Ferguson is really like, this much I know is true...*

  • It's a tiny town with parts that have a small-town flavor. Ferguson has a thriving farmers' market. There are some small, independently-owned businesses that have sprung up and are flourishing. There's a large, sprawling park with at least six ball fields and during some seasons and many days, each one is booked with baseball/softball/kickball leagues.

  • One of those independent businesses that just celebrated its first anniversary is Cathy's Kitchen (home of the best fish tacos in St. Louis, in my opinion). Cathy Jenkins had a vision, found a property, spent months and months renovating it (it has a Route 66 theme, with countless personal/family connections) and her landlord was so generous, he told her, "Don't start paying on it until you're up and running." They began with just lunch and dinner...and now they even offer breakfast. It's a place where a school superintendent can sit at one table with friends/colleagues and a parks employee--after just finished mowing the fields--sits at another. You scan the crowd and--every time--there is diversity and harmony.

  • It's a place of pride. Parts of Ferguson have large, century-old houses; most of the community is full of small, two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes, inhabited by families who love where they live. The yards are taken care of. The parents flock to school events and do everything they can to stay in their neighborhood school because they know the teachers care. The school that is closest to all the heartbreak has a community garden.  It has evening events for the families, including fun lock-ins for the students. The teachers have stood outside on street corners, jumping and dancing around, begging for cars to honk to show their Ferguson pride and begging them to stop by for free lunches ...since the start of the school year was delayed by seven school days.
      There are lots of things I don't know. But this much I know is true ...

* And if you have not read Wally Lamb's This Much I Know is True, you should. It's an incredible book.