Friday, June 5, 2015

Pretty Purple Scallop Shells and Other Utterly Useless, Nonsensical, Delightful Things

Last week (as in the normal course of events), I was the one struggling with uncertainty--unable to make decisions, lying awake wracked with anxiety. This week, it is Pope who is experiencing sleepless nights and existential angst. Why are we here? What is the point of spending all this money? Am I wasting my life? He is devoting a lot of time to big questions, with the aid of a good red wine.

I, on the other hand, am happily enjoyng my vacation, and such totally useless endeavors as walking on the beach wondering how seashells get their colors, swimming laps, taking photos of flowers (and sitting in a hotel room writing a blog). No worries. Who cares? I'm on vacation. And at low tide, the water is a long way out, leaving a half-kilometer or so of beach littered with lots of colorful marine specimens and intriguing puzzles, waiting just for me.
Also littering the beach are some giant jellyfish and stray boats that got stuck in the mud at low tide. It's easy to get lost in joyful contemplation of nothing important.
Nobody else pays much attention; they are too busy soaking up the sun. For it is sunny and warm here, and the beach attracts a crowd in June.
The tables turned for Pope and me when we got off the train in Auray and checked into a spa resort hotel, i.e, health spa. Remember when people used to leave home for a while to "take the cure" in a sanitorium? Bingo. Similar. There are massages, facials, aromatherapy, yoga, a salt-water pool, multiple jacuzzis, and saunas--as well as grapefruit, yogurt, whole wheat bread, and prunes. I'm sure we could have found talk therapy, too,  if we had bothered to investigate. I love it. But what self-respecting man wouldn't be intimidated? (Or should I say embarassed?) The average age is probably about 75.
We worked on restoring Pope's self-respect by letting him loose to look at sailboats in the little harbors, where they cram as many overnighters as possible into a tiny space at the end of the day--practically on top of each other. Mini-dramas ensue as sailors stretch their lines across the bow and stern of other boats, and walk across their decks to reach the dock.
Of course all those sails just increased Pope's longing to be home racing on his own river. He tried to compensate by checking out a boat at the local yacht club. Alas, the language barrier was too high for him to rent a sailboat for the day. Besides, the tide was out and all that mud compounds the difficulties of launching. So every day he returned to our spa hotel room (with the plush white terrycloth bathrobes and red bathing caps, required for both men and women in the pool) to get on the internet and do something a little less feminine, like read the Wall Street Journal and contemplate how to get rich quick in order to pay for this hotel. While I swam and walked the beach and shopped for striped t-shirts and caramels (two of the staples in Brittany souvenir shops).
Have you ever seen such a range of purples, yellows, and blues?

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