• James Eric Fristad

Inevitably it's Clousseau

Updated: Nov 25

Next to my chair this coffee roaster's spindle motor squeaks at first; then the last few minutes the fan itself groans a little. And when the counter gets down to four and a half minutes, the readout begins to blink and, if you don't touch the control panel within 30 seconds, the entire operation shuts down. Batch ruined.


But moving along to less-local-Idaho challenges which, believe it or not touch one of my favorite comedic characters (see title above).... This entire March Madness (not intercollegiate basketball) thing that Michele and I have been fussing over for, lo these many months, which sometimes seems like a fencing match pitted against the Covid-19 situation. Parry and thrust. Ouch. Reposition, head up, left arm back, en garde! All that hand-me-down French sporting-culture stuff, you know. So a fun photo here to explain if not the untidy nature of the situation, at least some of the wistful nature of it: here is a fanciful sculpture in the French walled city of Carcassonne, of what the fabled medieval Lady Carkas might have looked like.



A sturdy and clever wench is shown, indeed, if somewhat mindless. She it was who during a lengthy siege of the city, was inspired to heave a roasted pig over the battlements in full view of the enemy, convincing said bad guys that there was obviously no lack of vittles within the walls. Which encircling army then left. Huzza! Let's name the city after this gal.


Almost certainly the account is mythical, since there's much older linguistic evidence for this place-name. Less romantic of course. But my point in showing you this stone likeness' vapid expression, is to hint that France itself, for us, is fading into the soft vapor of might-have-touched places. Many folks on our planet are now bearers of some sort of printed card, or perhaps a smartphone app, that affirms our vaccinated status. And France, from whose nationalism even staunch Trump apologists could take notes, has developed its own. Your puny bit o' proof will not suffice to get you (legally) indoors, in this beautiful country. No, you must brandish your carte sanitaire, issued by them. Health card.


Except that as of right now, you cannot get one.


Ever read Joseph Heller's Catch-22? Wandering through its more entertaining than deep pages our (more or less) hero gets lost in the absurd maze between requirement pairs whose coexistence renders both self-canceling. Even more entertaining and pointed illustrations of what I'll call Inevitable Helplessness, are the antics of Peter Sellers as Jacques Clousseau, Chief Inspector of the Surete. Always muddled, constantly optimistic, upon whose proudly goofy antics Heaven always seems to smile.


The bottom line is that it appears that two and maybe three splendid sites in France are no longer on this Spring's itinerary.


We will miss the cozy wine bars in Avignon, will ache to pedal those rented bicycles through endless vineyards near Bordeaux. Will force ourselves not to hold sadly the authentic turrets of Carcassonne in our imaginations.


I am going to leave my crafted pages for those days' likely-discarded locales, posted on the website for now. Partly because there is a remote chance that things may change yonder and that France will suffer less contagion than now and so I won't have to cancel those two AirBnB reservations. And partly I will leave them there because I enjoy them myself and, in the absence of stuff to put in their place, won't have to suffer holes in my online artifact.


Meanwhile we will examine options to be explored, that we hadn't given enough thought to. Like an additional several days in Italy or Spain, for example. On a cruise excursion once from Holland America's Eurodam, we spent just half a day in Seville. Not nearly enough time to taste the stimulating flavors of that historic city. We can fly there easily from Lisbon. Hmm. It is about an hour by train from Seville to the beach at Cadiz. Again, hmm.


You will have recognized several paragraphs ago, that all these ideas assume that everything else will happen as planned. It's a loosening raft of maybes, sure. But let's cope with one crisis at a time, here.


Oh, the coffee roaster yielded its fragrant contents ... just right.

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