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Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris: In Sympathy, In Solidarity

This post, which I have been meaning to write since my visit earlier this fall, is not much changed from my original conception of it, except that last Friday's events have made me focus more on its people and less on its places.

Even before last Friday, I was struck by the openness with which Parisians live their lives. Cafes, which seem to institutionalize this openness, are busy throughout the day. It might be for a croissant at breakfast, taking in the sun at mid-day, watching passersby from an outdoor table, or meeting friends for a drink after work. It is no wonder that earlier this week Parisians made a concerted effort to repopulate their cafes. It affirmed their way of life and demonstrated that their attackers have not won.

Another important element of life in Paris is fashion. As one of the world's capitals of fashion, it was exciting to see a fashion photo shoot in progress. Many other people had also stopped to watch, but did so from a distance and angle that didn't interfere with the photographer.

Place des Vosages

One of the liveliest places we visited was Montmartre, clearly a tourist mecca, but interesting nonetheless for the grand, domed Basilica de Sacre-Coeur,

Carousel and Basilica de Sacre-Coeur

narrow streets, bustling cafes, 

La Boheme Cafe

and artists at work.

I snapped a photo of this gentleman talking on his phone in the courtyard of L'Hotel de Bethune-Sully because of his elegance and his adorable dog. They appear so companionable! And unguarded. I wonder if after last Friday he can still be at ease in such a public place. I hope so.

In the courtyard of L'Hotel de Bethune-Sully

I will end with this image of the Eiffel Tower, a structure which is both open and soaring. The statue appears to be holding the tower in a protective embrace, as though to demonstrate that we cannot take for granted our open society, nor our right to have soaring aspirations. We must cherish them. We must protect them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Apple Season

Ah, fall! Fresh apples and comforting spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

During last Friday's huge storm - over eight inches of rain in less than six hours at my house - I whipped up a batch of apple walnut muffins for an afternoon snack. I used unpeeled apple chunks to add both flavor and texture.

Cream together
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine dry ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Add dry ingredients, in two increments, to sugar and butter, alternating with 
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 apples, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (enough for about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Spoon into prepared muffin tins and top with combined
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in pre-heated 400° oven. If you haven't used cupcake foils, let cool for half an hour before removing from tins.

Besides crispy apples and cooler weather, for us fall brings visits to our daughters in New England. This year peak colors coincided with our trip and we were treated to splendid displays of foliage. The Northfield Mount Hermon campus was positively glowing.

NMH fall colors

Sugar Maple leaves at NMH

For the long weekend break we headed to New Hampshire's White Mountains yet again for some hiking. This time we stayed at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch, right at the Tuckerman Ravine trailhead. Given the White Mountains' reputation for bad weather, we were thrilled to step out into a day of blue skies, warm temperatures and moderate winds.

Getting ready to head up the trail

We pretty quickly diverted off Tuckerman's, one of the busiest trails in the White Mountains,

Fall color on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

to Huntington Ravine, a trail that is definitely less taken. We saw only three other people, two climbers and one hiker, along the entire route. Once above tree-line the trail becomes a scramble, up and around boulders, and over bare rock slabs, requiring care to follow the trail blazes marking the route. I wouldn't want to descend this way, nor try it on a rainy or icy day, but in the warm sunshine it was great fun.

Resting along the Huntington Ravine Trail

Being up high I could fully appreciate the land's contours, ridge after ridge marching off towards the horizon.

I marveled at the effort that has gone into making and marking these trails.

Descending the Boott Spur Trail

Much as I enjoyed the exhilaration of the high, rocky terrain, as my energy waned towards the end of the day, I welcomed our return to the forest, finding comfort in its protective and colorful embrace.

Nearing the junction to Tuckerman's Ravine trail, we had one final jolt of excitement: a moose on the trail! This was a first for us in the White Mountains and therefore truly memorable.

Moose on the Boott Spur Trail

Fortunately she was intent on eating and merely looked at us and twitched her ears. We couldn't have scripted a better end to the day. I'll leave you with one parting shot of color, this from along the Dolly Copp Road as we departed the White Mountains.

The Dolly Copp Road