Americans in France – part 3
In the days and weeks that followed the cigarette deal, hubby and I took long walks on warm evenings and sunny weekends, with baby Dena in her high and handsome French carriage. Mostly we walked down sidestreets lined with birch and locust trees to the town square to gaze at Orleans’ patron saint, Joan of Arc, an equestrian statue that the GIs referred to as Joanie-on-her-pony.
We enjoyed watching the townspeople as we meandered by open air markets that sold the sight and aroma of shiny ripe produce of all kinds. Sometimes we stopped at the Glacerie for a French version of ice cream cones or at the Patisserie for my favorite custard-filled cornucopia pastries — so luscious!
And then we’d sit on a bench near the Loire River, entranced by the swirling waters and the eloquent arches of the centuries-old bridge. Clusters of French schoolchildren in their navy-and-white uniforms sometimes tagged along. Sometimes we stopped at the glorious carousel not far from our apartment, and once in a while we wandered through a graceful green park named for Louis Pasteur. Unlike anything we Americans had ever seen, this park was dotted with the most sensuous statuary.
(These majestic white marble pieces by Auguste Rodin turned me into an aficionado, searching out more Rodin’s at Maryhill Museum in Washington state and visiting the Philadelphia Rodin Museum with its 150 Rodin sculptures!)
By day John worked at his office and I kept house as best I could, cared for the baby and wrote letters to the folks back in Portland. We didn’t often see our neighbor, but once a month she welcomed her three cartons of Camels, quickly compensating John from a small leather pouch always stuffed with the strange oversized French bills.
Neither John nor I could quite get her name straight — Elena, Alanna, Almia or something — but we gathered that she was not married, did not have children, and had lived here for years. I glimpsed the interior of her apartment just once but could see exquisite Louis XIV furnishings. Ah the Mademoiselle …
to be continued