29 August 2012

you might want to stand up for this

I can't believe that we are staring down the final days of August.  Where did the summer go? I told Félix, rather urgently, that I thought I needed to up my ice cream consumption for the last of the hot weather. And I totally meant what I said.  We've really made the most of this summer though.  I think that is why it feels like it has gone by so quickly.

This past weekend, we headed to the Lac d'Annecy to do something that's been on my summer bucket list for ages. We tried our hand at Stand Up Paddling.  If you aren't familiar with it, the sport originated in Hawaii.  Waikiki surfers used paddles to get out past the reef break to surf bigger and better waves. Stand up paddling has picked up a lot of momentum all around the world and can be found in both salt and fresh water, now. It is easy to understand the popularity. It is so much fun.

It felt amazing to be out on the water.  The sun was shining. The lake was calm.  It was gorgeous.  We only paddled for an hour, but the time flew by. It was so peaceful.  Although I did get honked at by a lake ferry. I was in my blissful, paddling mindset when I half-wittedly thought the captain could steer his big old boat around me.  The horn blasts easily made it clear who would be yielding to whom. Félix and I braced for the waves while the passengers grinned and took photos. We grinned back.

We are officially hooked on this sport. Once we returned our boards, we strolled over to the old town for sushi in the sunshine. It was a completely dreamy day.  Have you tried stand up paddling? Or, maybe just standing up independent of paddling is more your thing?

In any case, I hope you are enjoying these final days of August!

20 August 2012

riding the rails in the Alps

I was happy to see that  
Gabrielle at Design Mom was hosting another Love the Place You Live series. I require very little encouragement to wax poetic about where we live. We love it here. The idea of the series is to get out and enjoy a place close to home, share about it and link up with others that did the same. Félix and I have been meaning to hop on the TMB, the Tramway du Mont Blanc for ages. The timing couldn't be better.  Well, maybe our timing was a wee bit off. When we went to pick up our tickets, we missed the train that was at the station by about 30 seconds.  To make the most of it, we sat down at the little railway café to enjoy a coffee in the sunshine while waiting for the next train to arrive.

The rail line was inaugurated in 1909 and is the highest railway in France. It is also one of the steepest. In only 12 km (7.5 miles) of track, it climbs 1798 meters (5866 feet).  Our train wasn't too full but the early morning trains are usually packed with climbers heading up to start the long trek to the summit of the Mont Blanc. The original idea was to build a train that would go all the way up to the top of the Mont Blanc. Can you imagine?  The early 1900s were such a lofty time of industrial revolution. However, the project faced financial difficulties and with the arrival of the First World War, the idea to go all the way up was definitively abandoned. 

Each one of the three trains that run on the line are named after the operators daughters, Jeanne, Anne and Marie. The railcars are beautiful with polished wood benches and big windows that open to let in the fresh alpine air.

The train winds through the forest climbing up higher and higher until out peaks the most gorgeous panoramas of the Mont Blanc, the Bionnassay Glacier and the Aiguille du Midi.  It rolls through alpine meadows and then heads into a tunnel before reaching its terminus.

We hopped off the train at Mont Lachat stop.  The train can go all the way up to the Nid d'Aigle (The Eagle's Nest) but due to intense melting and glacial activity of the Bionnassay glacier the rail line has had to close and have some work done.

Meanwhile, the wildflowers have happily moved in and taken advantage of the slow down in train traffic. 

We hiked up and up and up further.  It was such a beautiful day.  Félix set a perfect pace as we followed the switchbacks through the rock fields. We walked along until ice axes and crampons were required to go any further.

There has been a lot more rock fall this year with the hot, hot temperatures.  Helmuts were a must at this point, too.  After savoring the amazing view over a snack break, we headed back down and just happened to make a new friend.

We came across this good-looking fellow. He's a bouquetin, a european mountain goat. He was pretty mellow. And no, that's not zooming in, we were really that close. He checked us out for a bit and then trotted off towards his buddies that were busy sunning themselves on the rocks a bit higher up.

This was such a fun day trip.  I feel like the mountaineering bug bit me with this one. Félix and I wanted to keep going up and up and up.   People come from all around the world to visit where we live. We are so lucky to have all this just outside our back door.  And who knows, maybe the next time we're on that train, we will be heading to start our long trek toward the mountain huts before taking on the summit of the Mont Blanc.  What do you think, would you want to join us?

p.s.  For my other favorite from the Love the Place you Live series, take a look here.

16 August 2012

and now, you are two

I love the gap between your two front teeth.

I love the deep depths of your blue eyes.

And the way your tiny hands clasp tightly around my neck for a hug when you are tired.

I love your adorable elocution when you say yes. oui. One might think the word has nearly three syllables.

I love your excitement to wave from the window.  In the mornings, once we've given your papa all the kisses he can stand and he's headed out the door, you hurry to push your chair up to the window. You scramble up to your perch to wave and smile at him as he drives off to work.

I love the way you transform a stick or really anything into a cane and pretend to hobble about. Where did you learn that?

And your laughter, especially when you are being tickled. I love that laugh. Pure joy.

I love you and now, you are two. Happy birthday, Clover.

03 August 2012

a parade not to be missed

At the tail end of July is the annual Fête du Village.  It's a one day celebration of the history and culture of our village. It's probably my favorite celebration. It brings the whole town together.  All the people participating dress up from the old days and there is a parade through town ending in the center square. There are folk dancers, farmers, loggers, school teachers, poker players, hay balers, carpenters and craftsmen. This year there was even an old-fashioned marriage processional. As the folkloric dancers would stop to sport a dance, our friend, D, dressed up as a ski-instructor gave demonstrations of how to put on wooden skis much to the enjoyment of the spectators.

The nanny that looks after Clover a couple days a week is greatly involved in the community and she sent me a text message a couple days before the fête. "Does Clover want to participate in the parade?" Without hesitation, I calmly responded that "Clover would like to partake in the festivities."  Not wanting to go overboard or over characters in my text message, I refrained from telling her just how excited his mother was that he would be in the parade. The word giddy is the first one that comes to mind.  Ridiculously excited.

So Clover was kitted out in an old timey outfit, little leather boots, cordoroy pants, suspenders and handknitted bonnet. The son of the nanny, looking dapper in his great grandfather's old mountain guide uniform, was absolutely adorable with Clover and took such good care of him during the parade.  They had white confetti for fake snow to throw to onlookers.   Clover was delighted. Throwing bits of paper into the air? For once it was encouraged!

Clover and his cousin rode side by side through the parade route. The little sledders happily sat for photos from parade bystanders, and lots from me, too.

I may have gone a little overboard on the photos but it was so hard not to. Clover's first parade. We loved every minute of it. Okay, I loved every minute of it. He loved about seventy-five percent which really for a toddler, that's practically one hundred and ten. Right?

There were vendors selling old-timey wares and at the center of town they had exhibits of what it was like to brew coffee back in the day, bale hale, chop wood, do your laundry with boiling pots of water and hand cranked tin drums, an old-fashioned meat smoker, of course, their was also a distillery. That one had the most people milling around it all times, they offered lots of tastings.

There was an abundance of accordion music. Numerous folk dancing groups from around the area came to show off their traditional dances on the stages set up in the square. The woman that heads up the folkloric dancing in our village recruited me to dance next year.  I've been trying to convince Félix to do it with me. I even tried to play the jealousy card. Did not even phase him.  I asked if he really wanted me to be dancing with some other man, and his response to that was that if it was folk dancing nothing would make him happier than to see me dancing with someone else.

So we got our fill of accordian music for the summer and had a great time with family and friends. Félix is already dreading that I'll ask him to be in the parade with me next year and of course, I am already a few steps ahead of him on that route.  I'm happily dreaming up what our costumes will be.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...