Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

07 February 2011

three days, three countries, three waterfalls

esc01ait starts with an ice climbing mix.

esc01for an eight hour road trip.

esc02to trélechamps.

where?

near argentière.

still don’t know where that is…

basically, chamonix.

ahh, okay! i know where that is!

for you, the french always have to list the nearest big city, or otherwise you’re lost.

esc05alet’s back up.

what, exactly, possessed you to sign up for an ice climbing trip…?

there’s only one response. the one response all french people give: pourquoi pas? why not?

but you’ve also got some other motivations.

esc09un. snow-capped mountains do not exist in texas.

esc05deux. if you don’t do it now, you are not sure of your next opportunity to do this. you might be 85 the next time you’re near the alps. 24 and not-super-fit is better than 85 and frail, you tell yourself.

grimptrois. the most important. three girls. three girls who climbed in evreux last year. three girls who tried to get you to climb as well, but you adamantly refused each time. and then, in the summer, when separated and alone in texas, you decided to take up climbing to feel closer to them.

and it turns out… you liked climbing!

they inspire you. and you can’t wait until the day you get to climb together, all four, whether it’s in canada, in france, in texas, or in england.

esc03here, in the alps, you stay in a gite. basically a holiday home. but for you, it is an 18th century wood cabin.

esc04as always, the petit-dejeuner is taken.

esc14as you hike and hike and hike and hike and hike, you walk past this sign. the sign that tells you that you’ve just left the “safe” area

esc06and here you are, at la crèmerie. frozen waterfall number one in france.

esc13you. are. terrified.

esc11walking in snow is difficult enough.

hiking uphill in snow was another beast you just conquered.

and now, you’re about to climb a frozen waterfall?

don’t forget – you’re from texas – and more specifically a grand prairie.

even your friend questions you. “cathy, when you were growing up, did you not have any hills or anything that you ran up and down…?”

your answer is no. of course not. not in the plains!

esc07but! there isn’t time to stress.

you change into your crampons. cleats. spiked shoes. crunch crunch crunch.

esc10more importantly, you’re surrounded by people who know exactly what they’re doing.

esc08and, you attack.

up is the only direction.

esc12you can be scared. you can be petrified. you can be stressed.

but you have to trust the people and the materials around you.

that is the key for ice climbing. trust.

esc15back on paved roads. the sun is long gone and you’re about to head back to the gite for some dinner. and then straight to bed because you are crevée.

one down, two to go.

esc16day two. in switzerland. here you are at la bleu. the second frozen waterfall.

esc17today, you are more à l’aise. at ease.

you’re still terrified.

of heights. of slipping. of falling. of tumbling. of dropping 40 euro ice screws. of breaking bones. of dying. of cracking open your head. of being eaten alive by bears. of freezing to death. of avalanches. of being hit on the head with ice chunks. of cracking a hole in the ice and taking a cold shower. of sliding down. etc.

but just less terrified than the day before.

esc18the others go first because you’re most definitely the slowest. so you spend a lot of time looking up at the fesses of your friends.

esc19and loving every moment of being absolutely lost in nature with nobody but you and your fellow climbers.

esc20you finish the climb in the dark. under the stars. gripping onto the backpack of someone in front of you because you lack the équilibre that everybody else has for the steep descent.

esc21ah. here you are definitely à l’aise. 100%. this is your thing. eating and drinking!

esc22hot drinks / dishes with tons of melted cheese / admiring armand charlet

and you are morte again, so it’s straight to bed.

esc24day three. it’s snowing.

esc27this time you’re in italy.

esc25in the village of lillaz.

esc26the cars are parked and everybody gets ready.

esc29frozen waterfall number three. here you are. there’s only one direction: up!

esc30the first team leaves. then the second. then the third. finally, you.

the terror you felt yesterday and the day before is still there. but most definitely much smaller.

and the camera is left behind. because you are here to climb. not to make photos.

but just imagine a grand paradise. massiccio del gran paradiso. le massif du grand paradis.

imagine nature untouched. some of the most beautiful paysages you’ve seen. blankets of white. pale blues. ponds. waterfalls. icicles.

sometimes the most marvelous things can be captured only one way: by memory.

13 January 2011

post-christmas moments

londbrist26a colorful breakfast. speculoos butter present, of course.

londbrist27best. wallpaper. ever. plans to to find matching floral print shirts to recreate some garden state photos are made. but never truly happen. next time!

londbrist28here, at this very bookshelf, you fell back in love with real books.

and your realize it’s because you like reading books off of other people’s bookshelves. they’re books that have already been chosen by people you know. books that have already been read. books you know aren’t an attempted flood by a publisher. books that are special enough that someone would choose to give it a space on their bookshelf.

it’s that personal touch you like.

and you are perhaps re-inspired to go back to that bookshelf portrait project that you just left hanging.

londbrist29mini game of where’s waldo? can you spot the sleeping fox?

londbrist30off to the downs for a winter walk.

londbrist31a look down into a gorge. that, can you imagine, used to be filled with all sorts of boats until the boats became too big to fit?

londbrist34more walking. and walking. and walking. and walking. and walking. and walking. and walking. and walking. until you turn to your friend and finally say the two magical words: i’m hungry.

londbrist35mulled wine does wonders on a cold day.

londbrist36and so does pub food.

real non-frozen fish and chips. complete with mushy peas.

and apparently, baked camembert with chutney as well? yes please.

londbrist39everything is still officially closed, but it doesn’t stop you from peeking at bristol.

londbrist40 you make it back home for the delicious christmas-leftovers-dinner.

londbrist41one last glimpse outside. cold cold cold. it reached –11C, if you remember correctly.

londbrist42inside was a different story. it involved speculoos cookie s’mores.

take one homemade-and-hard-enough-t0-chip-your-tooth speculoos cookie and place a cadbury flake on top.

gather around a hot fireplace and roast a marshmallow.

don’t let it burn, but as soon as it starts melting, quickly transfer it on top of the flake.

quickly grab another  homemade-and-hard-enough-t0-chip-your-tooth speculoos cookie and make a sandwich.

then, quickly, eat!

and repeat.

londbrist43the next day, you are given the world’s quickest tour of bristol. by your favorite bristolian, of course. who, you decide, could possibly be banksy as nobody really knows his/her identity!

londbrist46then, another lovely leftovers lunch. which involves cointreau. which is not british at all. in fact, it’s french. but it is important. and eventually, the story of this bottle of cointreau will be explained.

londbrist47a few hours later. it’s time to eat, again. but this time you’re back in london. back in a cozy home. back to cooking, as usual! it’s gravy (courtesy of nigel slater) and mash and apples and sausages for dinner. plus a glass of sherry.

*mash = mashed potatoes, for those lost by the british lingo

londbrist49and dessert is none other than a minced pie. with brandy cream. and you love comparing the different ways people decide to break it open to eat. 

then, tomorrow, you’re going to pull a P-E-P again. P-E-P, you wonder, what’s that? it’s for when you do  Paris-Evreux-Paris in less than twenty-four hours for moving between destinations.

12 January 2011

december 24th. 25th.

londbrist01two days that are important for lots of people. two days that are ordinary for lots of people. two days that are perhaps nothing special for lots of people. but for you, they’re nothing but two days of absolute joy.

you start be wrapping gingerbread.

in london.

londbrist03and in the empty apartment, you’re left a note and some keys.

londbrist02you were planning on walking through some parks. but with nothing but guaranteed slips, you decide it’s best to stay on de-iced sidewalks.

londbrist04then you change homes. this time, to a beautiful english house. with an amazing family who doesn’t know you. has never met you. but most of all, doesn’t mind adopting you for a night.

londbrist05and so your christmas eve is spent cooking. eating. sipping tea with milk. trying to see a concert. drinking. falling asleep watching a seventies christmas horror movie.

small moments. perfect moments.

londbrist06the next day, it’s december 25th.

londbrist08and you begin the day with tea and milk.

londbrist10you discover that in england, the only person who says “merry christmas” is santa/father christmas. for regular people like you, you say “happy christmas” instead.

londbrist09the presents are just waiting to be unwrapped.

waiting for people to arrive.

ooo, the wait!

londbrist11a whomping occurs for the last person to wake up. they are attacked by a stuffed animal. and the victim…. not the person who slept in, but the stuffed animal, loses his tail. and so some christmas day surgery takes place as well.

londbrist12you eye the cookbook bookshelf. and wish luggage weight restrictions didn’t exist.

londbrist15then you leave london.

and what an incredibly sunny day.

you actually need sunglasses that you of course don’t have.

the roads are empty. and you’re playing DJ with a mix of music to make the ride even more special.

londbrist16you arrive. still on british soil.

hello, bristol!

londbrist17and hello, snow. and ice. and hills. this is tricky.

londbrist18you arrive right in time for christmas lunch/dinner. a dining table complete with christmas crackers. not edible american crackers, but crackers that pop open with little gifts.

londbrist20and you’re so happy to experience a british christmas. last you had a french christmas. and they are definitely not the same, except for the importance of being together. which is the point of christmas, anyway.

you’re extremely curious about what sort of christmas you’ll have in 2011.

londbrist21 hello trifle!

londbrist22and most of all, hello pudding! the hotly debated word between the americans and the british last year. pudding in england is an entirely different beast. it’s steamed. made with suet. filled with dried fruit. a one pound coin is snuck in. and soaked with rum. for a long time. preferably a year. and then served with custard.

pudding isn’t your favorite. but when it’s made by a favorite, that changes everything. so for this particular christmas pudding, you love love love it. delicious!

londbrist24presents are exchanged. including a jar of speculoos butter lugged all the way from france… that upon arrival, was already open. already tasted.

but not by you. promise.