Giverny 2017 Blair Pessemier Acrylic/linen 18 x 24" 45 x 60cm
View from the balcony: Val de Grace Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/linen
Wisteria Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 20 x 10" 50 x 25cm
Giverny through Bamboo Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas 8 x 12" 20 x 30cm
I am writing to you from a rainy and grey Paris this morning. The cool damp air feels good on my skin, even the occasional shower refreshing. I recall a French woman, Mireille, from Paris, telling me how her first memory was of rain, on her face, in her baby carriage. I was demonstrating Club aluminum cookware in Frederick&Nelson’s cooking department in Seattle, 1981.
We managed to get out to Giverny on Thursday, our first day here. We painted after closing, for about an hour. I knew I had to leave Paris, when I said, in 2015, “if I go to Giverny another time, I’ll shoot myself” …too many painting workshops. Monet’s garden is really a glorious place. It develops even now, with different flowers from two or three years ago. The beds are planted to encourage flower families and have an ever-so-perfect casual look.
France has such a distinctive geographical appearance: as we drove from Switzerland, the landscape flattened out and rolling hills punctuated by an occasional bright yellow rapeseed field, command our view. The greens are ever so slightly emerald, and the sky damp and grey: a beautiful, slightly pinky grey. There was no traffic on the highway, probably because of the extraordinarily high tolls. This is an expensive place to be.
I have resisted coming back to Paris, for a number of reasons. It confounds my language, for one thing: Italian bursts to the forefront when I want to say thank you, or dog, or car. When I return to Italy, it may be the opposite.
But mostly, I have a very hard time going BACK to places. There is such a big beautiful horizon of life looking ahead, with endless possibility and joy. Back is like a rerun for me – I know all the outcomes, nothing changes, I can’t affect what is or was. Paris was perfect and delightful to us when we lived here. Interacting with it now is different, and not better. Harika, my dog (chienne, cane) tugs at her leash to return to 110, rue de Rennes. I can see my antique garden chairs up on the balcony. It is no longer my house. I can’t describe how it feels to me – but it isn’t a “right direction” sort of feeling. I want to get away.
Fortunately, the Friday market is full of old friends. We arrange for coffee today with one, dinner tonight with another. We agree to come back on Tuesday – Ali will have mhajeb (stuffed Algerian bread) for us. Omar, at the Tourne Bouchon, treats us to lunch. He displays the pictures we left with him in his newly renovated dining room. Wonderful.
For a few minutes, I love being back here. At Blair’s birthday dinner, at the Cuisine de Phillipe, with two friends, we talk about getting together here or in Italy in the fall. We drink fine wine and eat our rhubarb and strawberry soufflé and laugh about the future.