Climbing up the hill to the Croix Rousse plateau today, I counted the steps. Images came to mind and I counted, days and weeks the years here in France in which I endured some disappointments but also had some of the happiest days of my life. I took a moment as I mounted the steps one by one to review the main archives of the last seven years.
There was that carefully crafted poem typed with an Underwood on a post card that symbolizes something very big that I will one day open out. There's the dissertation on onion skin, the ideas I dwelled on for perhaps too long but like many of these things can leave a feeling of the good that has come from conscientiously maintaining a commitment to a principle. There were the administrative files, the carte, the country, the file to request and the file to explain and the file that was lost at the prefecture and had to be filed again. These files give us an official history, and here in France this history is meticulously kept for the benefit of future generations.
The unofficial history is altogether another story. The kitchen notebooks and stories of families and friendships are very important to preserve. It is being able to choose and encapsulate, to focus and prioritize that allows us grow stronger in our abilities to do these stories justice. I thought about these things as I reached the top of the first one and then found a different stairwell to climb. But then again it is also learning to take a moment and live it.
Soon my thoughts began to become more fluid and far between as they often do when I undertake repetitive activity like climbing stairs, and I probed the hopeful places in my heart. I rested lightly on these thoughts, just very briefly and respectfully, and did my best to heed Clare’s advice and breathe to allow myself to be open to their implanting and coming true the way they should.
Here at the present at the top of the hill I went about my plan to stock my larder with a trip to Cap Epices, a store that sells spices in bulk, dried imports, and olives. We see them on the Quai St. Antoine, and I often wait in line there to get a ladle of this one, a scoop and a pinch of that from them during the bustle and hustle of the market. People jostle and poke and lean against one another as they call "next!" until it is your turn. For this reason I also go up to the shop where I can inhale the singular aromas and stand in the wooden cave that is their boutique and mull over them. It is the only time I can really envision how I can use them, and think about their provenance.
There are 23 jars in my sliding racks for spices, many of which are empty at the moment, mainly due to my own impatience and lassitude, and a habit I have of only buying what I need. Aside from the three large jars continuously in a state of use containing sea salt, herbes de provence, and my spice mix maison, I only sometimes have a nice full selection of the spices that might come in handy. Today I purchased enough for another batch of my mix, the best curry I have found, and a few other things, including an interesting mix of spices to make pain d’epices, kind of like a gingerbread honey cake that is very popular around the holidays.