I wasn’t going to post anything to mark the day this Thanksgiving. So many terrible events have rocked the world in the past few weeks, especially in my native city, that it didn’t feel quite right to come out publicly with happy wishes.
But my granddaughters and I baked up a storm yesterday, nothing magical, nothing extraordinary, simple Thanksgiving fare that filled the house with comforting smells: two kinds of cornbread, multigrain biscuits, a roasted pear tart, an apple tart. While all this was in the oven (or waiting to go into the oven) we held a knitting workshop. It was fun.
I woke up this morning with Noah on my mind and in the quiet of dawn, realized with a pang that it had been a while since I dreamed of him or gotten any kind of a sign and I wondered if that meant he was receding into the shadows as Time went by. That made me sad.
Fast forward a few hours.
My daughter has two little dogs. When I visit, I always take them out mid-morning. They know it too. When the appointed time comes (they seem to keep a fierce eye on the clock), they start gamboling around me with such abandon that I have no choice but do their bidding immediately.
The littlest one always rushes out barking (he clearly thinks that when you are all of five pounds attack is the best defense). Usually there is nobody around to notice but this time the noise attracted the attention of a little girl who was riding her bike a few driveways away. She circled towards us, parked her bike on the grass and asked if she could pet the puppies. I said yes. Two seconds later they were all over her. She laughed, delighted.
She had a bouncing ponytail, very shiny eyes and an easy manner. I liked her immediately. She asked what the puppies’ names were. I told her.
Then I asked what her own name was. She said: “Noa.” Not trusting that I had heard her correctly, I said: “Nora?”. Sounding vaguely impatient, she said: “No, no, Noa, N-O-A!” I said: “That’s a beautiful name. I love it.” We talked a while. Then she resumed her biking and we took the dogs for their walk.
When we came back, I could see her at the end of the block, riding in wide circles in the middle of the road.
Since they were about the same age, I went into the house to get my granddaughter Arielle, so that the two girls could meet.
Arielle came out immediately. But the street was empty. Both she and Sophia rode their bikes around the neighborhood looking for the girl. They didn’t see her.
Arielle has asked me twice since if I am sure I actually saw a girl. Fortunately I have a witness as the Man had accompanied the dogs and me on that particular walk.
So, no, it wasn’t an hallucination or even wishful thinking. We know that for sure. Now, what is a sign from Noah or just a coincidence? We’ll never know. But when I told Arielle it might have been a sign, her eyes lit up in wonder. She couldn’t believe the girl’s name either.
And I find my heart is now light enough to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.
When I first posted the picture above, I thought it was one I had taken from the street through a restaurant window last time we were in Paris but after I checked the date, I realized I actually took that picture back in 2012 at a brasserie called Au Pied de cochon near Les Halles in central Paris.
That brasserie is legendary for having remained open 24/7 since it first opened its doors in 1947. People of all walks of life used to flock to it when les Halles were still the “ventre de Paris” (the belly of Paris): butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, maybe bakers, as well as celebrities such as Prince Rainier and Princess Grace de Monaco, Maria Callas, Joséphine Baker, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gilbert Bécaud, Salvador Dali, Jeanne Moreau, Serge Gainsbourg, etc. Still in their (often stained) aprons, the local merchants probably ate at the bar where they could down countless coups de rouge (glasses of red wine) in rapid succession. When I was a child, my parents often went there after taking in a show to dine on soupe à l’oignon (onion soup) or a plateau de fruits de mer (fresh seafood platter).
Looking at the picture, I am reminded of what I now think of as a time of innocence. Although it probably was anything but. But we didn’t know it…