07 January 2010

Another World

It’s a clear, wintry day in Pontivy. So wintry, in fact, that it’s a snow day, although you wouldn’t know it from the roads. Coastal Brittany isn’t used to snow, and three wet inches fallen Tuesday night have now caused two days of school closings. Except school isn’t closed so much as cancelled for those who come from afar: if you come from a-near, you’re expected to show. Yesterday bus service was called off by the district, so the cancellation of classes was fairly evident. But throughout the day I observed no effort to improve the snow situation: no salting snowplows, no shovels (one woman did clean the slush off her sidewalk with a stiff broom). So the white residue has jellified and frozen into sheets of ice on all the sidewalks and side roads. Today bus service was cancelled by the bus company—although I don’t know how one finds this out without showing up at school and overhearing teacher gossip—and so class cancellations were less sure, the district’s mandate confronted by the lack of students. I was allowed to return home, despite the four classes I have scheduled, because most of the school population was “stuck.” To all you Michiganders, who are not paralyzed by three inches of snow: we are impressive folk.

I remember Michigan fondly these first days back in Pontivy. I won’t spend too much time recapitulating, since I’m addressing the same people who hosted me, but my trip was like entering another world. Here are some photo highlights:

Lots of kids decorating lots of cookies.

A Christmas tree and a dog.

Lots of snow and snow activities.

And more cute kid, more dog, and more snow activities.

Okay, so the vacation also had its downs, like retiling the entire floor. I would not recommend this during the Christmas season, when all of a sofa, table, chairs, recliner, refrigerator, and Christmas tree must be shoved into the living room. But, if you must, remember that there’s room for the microwave in the bedroom, the coffeepot in the bathroom, and you can always get yourself invited to dinner somewhere.

Don’t allow my banter to mask the difficulties of Christmas, which can be a sad season as easily as a joyful one. I can’t know what it’s like to be in the positions some of my relatives and friends are in, but I do recognize the pain of not feeling like myself, not feeling comfortable with myself, not feeling safe in my surroundings, and not being able to change a frustrating situation. It hurts to be so far away when people I love are confronting these situations and feelings. But I am not inaccessible. I can be in communication if it helps. And now that France Telecom owes me a good batch of euros for international calls I already paid for in my phone plan, I intend to abuse it. It’s my New Year’s resolution.

Love you all.

No comments: