Hi from Rick: Play with Your Perspective
Today I walked barefoot on the mudflats leaving France in the direction of England, until the Abbey of Mont St. Michel looked like a toy on the horizon. At low tide, it feels more like a vast desert out here than the seaside it's a little edgy, too. They say the treacherous tide can return at the speed of a galloping horse, drowning dreamy day-hikers (if the quicksand doesn't get 'em first, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry). A teacher carrying a tall staff passes me, herding a gaggle of school children back to the safety of the Abbey. I follow, a wary eye peeled over my shoulder.
On my way, my bare feet in the mud, I look into our TV camera and deliver a quick line about how 8th century hermit-monks sought desert-like solitude (hermit is from an ancient Greek word for desert) and in this part of Europe, an abbey atop a rock surrounded by this vast mudflat was the next best thing. That finished the script, our latest TV production (this one a show about Normandy) was in the can, and we're off to Belgium.
In the last two weeks of filming I've enjoyed completely new experiences in places I know well. In Paris we planted ourselves on a traffic island to be engulfed in a happy flood of five thousand roller-bladers. (Twice a week entire circuits of boulevards are handed over to skaters.) Later, I climbed down the Eiffel Tower. For 20 years I've descended by elevator, always frustrated by the lines and crowds. This time, I had an eye-opening downhill adventure, seeing all the inner workings of the tower, avoiding the crowds, and actually reaching the ground faster. And I have a new Parisian delight: macaroons. They come in pastel flavors: pistachio, peach, and rose petal. Even the extravagant cafes sell them inexpensively to go.
Later, we headed for Normandy. Rouen's famous cathedral is now two-tone: black and white. While most has been water-blasted clean, the precious carvings remain black, awaiting a more expensive laser cleaning. Across the street, we popped into a traditional milliner's shop to be engulfed in a floppy pastel world of ladies eagerly being measured for one-of-a-kind hats. Then, in Honfleur, I entered the house of the Impressionistic composer Eric Satie, and put on a headset. Moments later, I'm in a whimsical world where his music becomes visual pears with wings struming the wind like a slow-motion stork, accordian trumpets, and old boots that play like a flute.
Outside our hotel the next morning, the previous night's nondescript parking lot has erupted into a raucous farmers market. Wandering among children shopping for rabbits, salesmen threatening me with giant crabs, bonnetted maids pouring rich cream, and piles of the tastiest cantelope in my memory I'm reminded of how a Saturday market rightfully trumps any museum plans.
Europe rocks...especially when you play with your perspective.