Here's a photo of a page from that journal, but don't worry, I'll transcribe my writing for you below, adding some translations and explanations in square brackets [thus]. . .
May 24, 2017, 7:00 a.m.
Here we go, living the dream, writing my morning pages in my travel journal at the table of a café on Rue du Bac.
"Puis-je m'asseoir là?" [Can I sit there?]
"Bien sûr, comme vous voulez." [Of course, as you wish]
"Merci, je prends un café allongé avec du lait à coté, s'il vous plait." [Thanks, I'll have a coffee (the expresso lengthened with hot water) with milk on the side, please]
This trip, it's as if we've -- or perhaps just me [Paul crossed it some time ago] -- finally, have crossed some threshhold. No one switches to English at my first hesitation. The desk clerk [at the hotel] almost did yesterday -- It always takes me a moment longer to catch some words and jet-lagged, exhausted, I hesitated. But I came right back in French and then chatted a bit about last December [we'd stayed in the same hotel for a few days] and we were in, on, "lit" as the kids say (okay, probably not. . . )
Strolling last night then admiring the beehive -- Ruche d'abeille -- in the window of Cire Trudon --
gorgeous window display -- gold letters and bees on the glass and the cunning little handmade bees covering the rough-surfaced hive in the window.
I was interrupted in my photo-snapping by a young man who turned out to be a shop employee. En français, he commented something simple, how effective the display was, C'est joli, n'est-ce pas? or something similar. I think I was a bit discomfited at being caught at such a touristy action and perhaps trying to establish myself as more authentically or seriously engaged or something. At any rate, I pointed to the letters in the banner, Deo Regina Laborat and said, "J'essaie de me souvenir mon Latin." [I'm trying to remember my Latin] Perhaps I should have said "rappeler" but he understood and answered by directing my attention to, and reading out, the French translation at the bottom -- "The bees are working for God and the King."
I asked him who the window artist was, and he pointed inside to "le Maître," the owner, and then explained that Cire Trudon (and he pointed to the signage we'd missed on the shop wall) was the oldest candle maker in the world still operating. Then he chuckled and said that of course it was "les abeilles qui ont fait la ruche" [the bees that had made the hive].
Until then, we hadn't realized the "sculpture," as we'd seen it, was "une vraie ruche" -- an actual beehive.
So then I told him that "la vitrine m'interesse parce que j'ai une amie qui a écrit un livre dont les abeilles jouent un rôle très important" [the window interests me because I have a friend who's written a book in which bees play an important role].* At least, I think I conveyed that idea, but I bungled some syntax which, of course, I only realized and corrected to myself later. . . .
We thought we'd get back to Cire Trudon before we left Paris last visit, get back and pick up either some candles or some sealing wax to embellish my new letter-writing practice, but sadly, we didn't manage that. Maybe in December. . . .
I have more to share with you from that day's journal entry, but perhaps that's enough for now. What do you think? Do you keep a journal when you travel? When and where do you manage to write your entries? And have you ever seen a bee-made beehive? I'd only ever seen the boxes that beekeepers make for them, like these ones that I sketched in the Jardin du Luxembourg
Did you know there were beehives in Paris' Luxembourg Gardens? I first saw these for myself in 2009 after reading about the prevalence of beekeepers in the City of Light. The Palais Garnier, for example, hosts hives and produces its own organic honey, as now does the Bastille Opera House, and many restaurants and hotels around the city, the National Assembly buildings. . . indeed, there are more than 700 hives in this officially pesticide-free city. To keep up with Paris' bee-keeping, its api-culture, you might like to follow the InstagramAccount @apisurbanica, or just have a look-in. . . .
So journals? Paris? bees? speaking a second language? What topics haven't I folded in today? Just waiting for your feedback now -- Go To! (or just wave quietly, if you prefer, and I thank you for reading).
* My friend Cynthea Masson's book, if you're interested, is called The Alchemists' Council, published by ECW Press. The first in a trilogy of which the second is soon to be published. Cynthea's novel won an Independent Publisher Award for Fantasy. Find out more here.