Beached Boat Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 11 x 18 inches
Washed up (storm) Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 15 x 18 inches
Moonlight Cote d'Azur Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 22 x 15 inches
Window View rue de May Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 16 x 13
Village Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 16 x 16
Homage to Jean Cocteau Blair Pessemier Oil/linen 29 x 21.5 inches
Harbor Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 29 x 39.5 inches
On Thursday, in the rain, we drove to Aix-en-Provence to see the studio of Cezanne. We arrived just as it was closing. Aix might be the final bastion of closing between noon and two. We took advantage of the situation, and went to lunch. With Harika, we narrowed it down to two restaurants and decided on the bigger place, more populated. I spread my coat on the tile floor and Harika settled down.
We are not big eaters-out. In Paris and Villefranche, all but the most expensive restaurants are using packaged, premade sauces. Today I am making lunch at home: a bonita fish (like a small tuna), with a grapefruit sauce; rice. We started with babalinguas; little calzone, one filled with swiss chard and pine nuts, the other with spicy peppers (I bought these at the market today).
The restaurant in Aix did make everything “a maison” (in house). I had the “Gardianne de taureau” (Beef in the style of the(bull’s) shepherd) and Blair had the Seiche au pistou (squid with basil sauce). Both were super, Harika leaning toward the beef, of course. But the best, most super-duper thing was an older lady sitting two tables away from us. She looked at us with sparkly eyes when she came in, giving Harika a glance. Two lackluster men sat between us, both glued to their iphones throughout the meal. Despite their not-more-than thirty years, they looked dead waiting to be buried. They didn’t say hello.
As soon as they left (shovel food in, pay, get out), she and Blair and I fell into conversation. She took over their table. She was a regular here – no problem. She was a little girl in World War II and lived in our neighborhood in Paris, at 11, rue Servandoni. We got on like a house afire. We exchanged addresses at the end of our meal, and I felt happy to have talked, really talked, to a new person this week.
Cezanne’s studio was just exactly as one would expect it; scattered props from his paintings, but neat, clean, architectural. I imagine he was an orderly child who kept all his pencils sharpened, and his pencil case still had that new smell in May. (Unlike me, who kept a white glove in my first grade desk, which I used to mop up milk spills on my desk and my friends’ when we ate lunch at our classroom in the winter. Weeks later, passing by my station was like going into a cave at Roquefort.)
The studio was upstairs, the building on a wooded lot – and as the receptionist pointed out, this was the weather Cezanne liked – overcast, grey definitely no sun.
The Bonita came out again for dinner in a kind of Mediterranean seafood carbonara: ras-al-hanout, a bit of pancetta, lemon zest (I really needed pine nuts, but alas, this isn’t a city) with penne pasta. Olives.
This trip to the south has been nothing like we planned, but sometimes more comes from the unexpected.