My aunt Danielle was, and continues to be, my inspiration both personally and professionally. Her commitment to children’s education, her contributions to chemistry, and her amazing chicken stew with cashews will always be remembered.
And, of course, she is responsible for my Aznavour addiction.
This photo was taken by the West Side highway the day before she passed away… I will always love you.
A quote I want to frame for the wall…
The second half of summer usually finds me dreaming about places where I can unwind and relax under a cerulean sky with either the ocean or a mountain view for company. And this summer is no different. Right now, I’m reminiscing about my last trip to Cape Cod. It was a hastily planned affair, and my husband and I accompanied two of our friends to stay at a parents’ small cottage. We loved the narrow streets, the lobster rolls, and the view of seals in the distance when we went to a small, slightly pebbly beach nearby. We loved the feeling that there was nothing that we needed to do and no place where we really needed to be. I could easily see myself spending three (or more) lazy weeks hanging out by the ocean, biking, writing, and just catching my breath and really enjoying my family.
Now, if I only had a few days or just one week to spare I’d love to spend it at a place like Brewster by the Sea: Cape Cod Inn and Spa….
With a few weeks on our hands, I would love to do a rental or maybe take the ferry out to Martha’s Vineyard to see what all the fuss is about.
What about you, readers? What would be your ideal vacation spot for strict relaxation and escape? Do you have a place like this where you return to, year after year?
Readers, it’s been a while…
But lately, I’ve been thinking about wedding traditions past and present. One that I would love to revisit is the concept of the honeymoon. Apparently, when the tradition began generations ago it was a way to visit all of the far-flung relatives of the bride and groom who couldn’t make it to the wedding.
It would be great to re-imagine this tradition for couples who’ve already gotten married and maybe have a child they would love to present to family. This kind of trip could be a great mix of staying with family and/or any combination of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and/or rental apartments.
My husband and I have been talking about this idea constantly and we’ve settled on a European tour- it could easily be an extremely expensive trip for us; however, having family in France, Belgium, and England along with some friends in Germany make this a perfect choice!
Even though it’s not the most romantic, secluded journey it would certainly be an interesting one- experiencing Europe from a decidedly Congolese and Francophone point of view and learning more about cousins, aunts, and uncles – some who I haven’t seen in over twenty years. It is also a time to reflect- on a hazy time I barely remember, when my mother packed up my sister and I, taking us first to the Congo where we spent lazy days going to market on my aunt’s back and watching the red disk of the sun dip into the horizon. Then our next destination was Belgium with its tiny compact streets and french fries that you dip in mayonnaise. Then to Paris, which we visited a few years ago but can’t get enough of with possible side trips to the Loire Valley, or Provence, or the quiet Germanic romance of Strasbourg where my father saw his first westerns and my aunts attended school. I imagine myself with a notebook in hand while my husband pushes the stroller, working on the novel based on my family’s history.
Destination: England, France, and possibly Germany or Switzerland
It’s getting colder and darker and I’m out of breath.
So I turn the computer on at home after a long day teaching the breathtaking film “Water” by Deepa Mehta. (You have to see it, highly recommended) I click on one of my old bookmarks that I’ve long forgotten about and find this gorgeous website from a man who photographs endangered cultures primarily in India, Bali, East Africa, and Bhutan. Part of his work is taking aspiring photographers on photo expeditions- some on the streets of Kolkata, others to Kerala to witness and document Katha’kali dance-dramas. There are also photo galleries- one that caught my eye featured a photograph of African Sufi Siddis. Click here and feel transported…
This is a really beautiful piece done over at BBC, one of my favorite websites for travel, chronicling the pilgrim’s journey of “The Way of St. James” in non-touristy northern Spain. The breathtaking photographs were taken by Matt Munro.
BBC Slideshow: The Way of St. James
During my summer break this year, we kept most of our traveling super close to home. Aside from a week with family in West Palm Beach in Florida, the focus this year was cutting back to prepare for the little one who will be making an appearance and adding to life’s adventures in January. So, no big trips this year!
Short day trips to places like City Island in the Bronx and Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island helped me to escape from the stifling July heat. Staying in the city vs. planning and saving up for a big trip made me see and appreciate what is literally right in front of me- the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park (free!), the Brooklyn Library (free!), and what is only a short car trip away- Far Rockaway, Robert Moses, and even the waterfront park by the Verrazano Bridge was fair game for exploration. Also, lots and lots of movies. I’m disappointed to say that I did spend way too much time indoors this year, but being pregnant, it was sometimes difficult to stay out when I knew that I would need to constantly buy food to eat or run to the bathroom! Still all in all, it truly was a beautiful (though really, really hot) summer…
pasta and lobster dinner date at the Lobster Shack in City Island
quiet evening at the Verrazano Bridge waterfront
magical Montauk, the famous lighthouse
So readers, I’m really curious. And I will ask you what I always ask my students: What did you do last summer?