Friday, July 06, 2007

Irish eyes in Hossegor

We went to Hossegor yesterday to visit Delphine and her family. We had a great visit and afterwards on our way home we went into the town to grab some food and see the sights.

The kids immediately discovered an empty temporary stage which had been set up there. Tess reenacted her dance routines for us and she instructed Colm on how to do the choreography. They rolled about on the stage, affecting various poses from the dance. Beth and I sat on a nearby bench and watched. As we watched, a skinny little girl walked by. Her age was hard to estimate owing in part to her hip outfit and her rather desultory way of walking. She was eating an ice cream cone. She mounted the stage and regarded our kids with a kind of cool and appraising look. She circled them wordlessly, casually finished off the ice cream cone and then simply stood there. Tess and Colm kept switching focus from each other to the new arrival. Finally, the girls stationed herself so close to them that Tess stood up and looked directly at the girls. Tess was taller but she seemed younger. I could see Tess say something and I could tell it was in French but couldn't hear what. Their exchange was brief and then Tess dashed over to us descending the stairs and reaching us in a couple of bounds.
"She speaks English." As she said this the other girl descended the stairs and walked by us casting a furtive look in our direction.
"She's Irish."
I looked at the girls and said, "Tu es irlandaise?" Forgetting what Tess had just told me, but the girl seemed to understand. She nodded yes and continued over to another bench where I noticed a young boy about twelve years old sitting alone, her brother I surmised.
Tess said, "I told her that we speak English in the United Sates."
With that Tess ran back up on the stage and resumed playing with Colm. Not long afterwards the Irish girl came walking back. I tried again.
"You're Irish?"
"Yes." She smiled and with that smile she seemed to become younger.
"You speak French?"
She shook her head and continued on her way back to the stage. I saw the three of them face off again. There was more talking and slowly you could see an arrangement coming into shape. Tess and Colm were, as usual, in the midst of some elaborate make believe enactment. Tess had begun to initiate the new girl into the setup. I watched her closely to see how she would react. I wondered if she might feel too old for this sort of thing, whether Tess's enthusiasm might not strike her as being a bit infantile. But in a matter of moments I had my answer. Colm was on his knees, the two girls patrolled him from either side, he tried to escape, they would pursue him laughing, subdue him, Colm would willingly submit and the whole sequence would begin again. At first Tess did all the narrating.
"You're a horse. Now you try to escape. We're the mean guys but we won't hurt you. Tell us your secret..." And then I began to hear the Irish girl saying the same sorts of things. Colm was happily taking orders from both of them and then running away and then falling into their clutches, a big smile on his face the whole time.
At length, the girl's parents arrived and the scene was brought to a close. We chatted briefly. They were nice in a very familiar way. I forgot to ask the little girl's age. She peeped out at us from behind her mother.
We took our leave and as we walked to the car it began to sink in on Tess that she would never see this girl again.
"But I love Orna!"
She began to weep, these partings are hard for her. So much promise in every encounter, such hopes and such abrubt and inflexible endings.
I tried to tell her about how Ireland is another country, not too far from here. Tess perked up that. I could see she was wondering if maybe we could go there sometime.


Blogger Anne said...


Nice to see you guys ;) And Delphine too ! Thank you for the nice pictures of our great village, it makes us feel a bit like home !



8:39 AM  

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