More photos from my time with Susan, here at Instagram
TODAYS WORDS: La Joie de L'Ame
: the soul's joy
La joie de l'âme est dans l'action.
The soul's joy lies in doing.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...
by Kristin Espinasse
Un hommage à L'Amitié / A Tribute to Friendship
IT all began at the train station in St Cyr-sur-Mer, where I was meeting my best friend who was coming to stay the night. Passing through la salle d'attente, I noticed a box of free books, and one in particular caught my eye. A perfectly kept volume by André Maurois, author of An Art of Living. Flipping through, my eyes caught on a quote:
The soul's joy lies in doing.
La joie de l'ame est dans l'action.
Landing on that page was serendipitous! I sensed that quote (by Shakespeare? Shelley?) would make the next 24 hours with my meilleure amie even more meaningful. Tucking the book under my arm I hurried toward the platform where the TGV was arriving.
As the train whirled past, windows rushing by, I glimpsed rich, strawberry blond hair and that familiar smile of Susan's - and gave chase until I caught up with the slowing carriage.
(Now, at the rate in which I am writing this--is "narrative" a rate?--we will never finish the story in time for you to feel refreshed from the read. So I must now give chase to any poetic aspirations and get right to the point: Thank you, Rouge-Bleu!
With my best friend, Susan a.k.a. Rouge-Bleu at her first harvest at Rouge-Bleu, our former winery.
Susan, I must first thank you for allowing our "best-friend code name" to be borrowed for the vineyard my family began 8 years ago. It must have been strange for you to see the friendly term we use for each other now used on logos and boxes and bottles of wine! But when Jean-Marc was searching for vineyard name, he found much inspiration in our friendship moniker "Rouge-Bleu," symbolic in so many ways.
Now, I'd like to thank you, Rouge-Bleu, for the unforgettable birthday getaway you treated me to, this weekend in Amsterdam! Staying at The Sofitel Legend Le Grand was like visiting Heaven for a day. Plush white robes in the bathroom, down-feathered beds, our own expresso machine and... heated toilet seats!! (does The Promised Land have those?). I believe the next time I have a chance to experience such comfort will be, effectivement, in Paradise!
Busy pushing all those buttons on that fancy contraption, I overheard you calling me from the next room. "Ready, Rouge-Bleu? The driver is on his way." It was time to quit testing the curious buttons and leave that heated throne in time for the city visit you'd thoughtfully planned. And I wouldn't have to leave the warmth for long, for I went from my heated throne to a heated sedan--and the chance to see Amsterdam from the comfort of a private car!
This comfort was much appreciated, given how cold things looked outside the sedan's tinted windows, where the Dutch--bundled from head to toe--walked or biked along the canals. What a chance, this chilly time of year, to see the city via a driving tour. Our guide was named John and he was, as the French say, au top!
With John at the wheel we glided past the coffee houses, the Red Light District and the city's architectural treasures and curiosities (including the Nemo museum, a building that looks like a sinking ship). After two hours we were delivered to the front of the Anne Frank house. Seeing the line going far down the block it seemed we would wait an hour to get in... when Susan produced two passes. And, illico presto! we were inside the building, a part of which is famously known as The Hiding Place. Walking through the dark, tiny rooms where 8 people desperately hid, was an upsetting contrast to the luxury we would soon return to. How are we to act from here on out? What are we to do?
Walking beside my best friend as we made our way down the ice-cold streets, now sans taxi, I began to sense an answer. It came partly from all the consideration Susan has shown me throughout our friendship - and part of it came from the quote I'd stumbled across at the opening of this story: We are to keep doing. La joie de l'âme est dans l'action.
At the end of our 24 hours together, I thanked Rouge-Bleu for the chance to get away from the daily grind here at our farm. I was hesitant to return home to my lazy ways, but I now had a thought to focus on: keep doing! These two words will mean different things to different people. I thank my best friend for her example.
On the ride back to the airport, we had little time to catch our flight, but Susan asked the driver to make a special stop. "I need to do this," Susan said. I'll be right back. And I watched her hurry up a cold, wet alley to snap some photos in front of a Christian youth hostel. "My sister used to work here," Susan explained. "Seeing these will make her happy."
And that is what that quote means to me: Keep doing. For your efforts will bring others happiness. Indeed, The soul's joy lies in doing!
In addition to being the godmother of our son, Max, Susan is the owner of Critics Choice Vacations. One of her greatest joys is to help others realize their travel dreams. Please keep my dear "Rouge-Bleu" in mind if you need assistance with your travel plans. The following link will take you to Susan website:
Susan's phone: 480-831-9076
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety