poor little blog has been a bit neglected over the last month or so, but I have
been busy writing, revising, reading, and playing catch-up on several different projects. I can’t believe it is already
mid March! Time really does fly…
I’ve returned home from France, several friends have asked for my top three
impressions from my trip. Just for fun, I thought I’d share them here (I promise—all of this does have something to do
of all, I have decided that everything
tastes better in France! Seriously, EVERYTHING—from simple bread and butter
to meals made with super fresh ingredients straight from the butcher, bakery,
or farm. I enjoyed lots of great food while I was away, but one of my favorite
meals was the Beef Bourguignon that my friend’s husband made for dinner one
night. It was amazing! When I got home, I tried my own version. It was good,
but still not as good as what I had in France (click here for an easy Beef
Bourguignon recipe). Paired with fresh bread and a good French wine, it was one
of the best meals I’ve had in a long time!
Another culinary highlight was our lunch
at a Creperie in Arras.
Here I enjoyed a galette (an open-faced
buckwheat crepe made with meat and other ingredients) and a
wonderful apple cinnamon dessert crepe topped with ice cream and whipped cream. The cappuccino was amazing, as well. Doesn’t this look like the perfect afternoon treat?
thing that I realized during my trip is there is so much I did not know about the history of northern France,
WWI, and WWII. I went through high school and college as a
mostly-straight-A student, and thought that I at least knew the basics of
French history. I’d also traveled abroad to Europe during college and learned
quite a bit then. But it was on this trip that I learned the most about
northwest France’s turbulent and often bloody history.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais (northwest region of
France) is bordered on the north by the English Channel and the North Sea, and
on the northeast by Belgium. In the south it is bordered by France’s Picardy
region. The Nord-Pas-de-Calais encompasses what was once the French part of
Flanders, and the old province of Artois. Historically, it has been one of the
most coveted sections of land in Europe, and over the years has been fought
over by the French, the English, the Austrians, the Spanish, the Dutch,
and the Germans, just to name a few. During World Wars I and II, this region saw many bloody battles.
Driving around the French countryside, I saw many bunkers, cemeteries, memorials, and even bomb-cratered
areas of land that remain as reminders of lives lost. World Wars I and II are not just historical events here, but are still very much a part of the collective memory
of this area.
A memorial to fallen soldiers in Arras, France, with fresh flowers.
I enjoyed exploring many of the towns in this area,
including Boulonge sur Mer, Lens, Arras, Calais, and the tiny fishing village of Audreselles, where I stayed. From the beach down the street from my friend's house, you can just catch a glimpse of England's White Cliffs of Dover across the English Channel.
You can just barely see them here...
On this trip, I was reminded once again that the world really is a BIG place, and our individual experience is just
a little tick on history’s clock.
I read an
interesting fact a few weeks ago: If the history of Earth were compressed to a
single year, modern humans would appear on December 31st at about 11:58 p.m.
(To read more about this and other interesting time-related facts,
There is so much more than what we personally
know and experience, which is easy to forget in our hectic lives where
everything seems so immediate and important. Traveling to new places always
reminds me of this, especially when the site I’m visiting is rich in history
and has a story behind it, which includes just about everywhere I visited
during my trip.
An impromptu stop along our route to Paris towards the end of my visit was one of the highlights of my trip. This explains it better than any words of mine ever could...
So what does all of this have to do with writing? Just that every story we write, every poem we compose, every single line is born out of how we experience our world. Whether this experience comes through research, reading, or travel, it plants tiny seeds of inspiration that have the potential to grow into future poems, plots, and characters.
I am not exactly sure what will come of this for me, but I suspect that somewhere down the line I'll find out. The seeds of inspiration have definitely been planted!