The Normal Peace of the South of France
My heart is in fragments, scattered along the beaches of Nice, across from the Negresco – where we stayed in 1964, before I knew that Provence is different from France.
Down the road from the Hotel Suisse, where my daughters and I and Charlie and Rose Mary Clancy stayed, –our balconies overlooking the Boulevard des Anglais, in 1984. We woke to the sussurus of Mediterranean waves, and the aroma of French coffee and fresh brioches on little trays at our doors. We slept to the slow weaving of delicately illuminated pleasure craft stitching one ‘Cap’ (as in Cap Ferrat, Cap d’Antibes) to another across an ink black sea. The lit craft shattered the stars’ wakes, and we could barely leave to go to sleep. But another day in wondrous France awaited us, and attention must be paid.
It cannot BE that enraged bitter people believe their lives, this world will be better if they strew the beaches of Nice with bodies and blood.
I have this horrid vision of my beloved tricoleur, shredded, trampled.
Once, blood-soaked French beaches saved the free world. But that was Normandy. Yes, there was a battle of the Riviera, (August 15, 1944). Cannes (where I lived in ’88 and ’89) was right in the heart of it. Her Bay held firing warships, aiming at Nazi strongholds around the corner from our villa L’Aquila. I could feel the bad vibes of the German centers, as I took circuitous walk after circuitous walk on the heights of Cannes.
But that was a real war, with declared enemies, and somehow generals and politicians knew who won and who lost and we won and liberty was assured.
Or so we thought.
Now there are phantom enemies everywhere. France is bleeding again. Only it’s not for a good cause. She’s the victim again, as in the 1940s. Then, she was betrayed from within. Now we have no idea how to contend with this evil.
My heart breaks with France. Mourn with me, please.