Friday, July 14, 2017

Of Time and the River and A Lake

14 July 2017

Yesterday I rode the #8 bus to the end of the route. I waited for 7 minutes and rode it back down thru the heights of Lausanne. I got off at Riponne- M. Bejart, which may or may not be named after Lausanne’s Bejart ballet troupe.

            I made a detour to the tables set up in front of the Place de la Rumine. We need a coffee pot. The choice was an Ikea French-press at 10 francs or a plated pot from a long gone hotel at 15. I chose the French-press, much as I admired the old pot. We don’t need to be carting antiques, but we do need our strong and black. The lady selling all this spoke French with an accent, which turned out to be Croatian. We had a good chat. She likes Trump, because her mother was half German. She told me that a local millionaire buys lots of things from her.

            My main objective was a shop specializing in local products-vegetables, cheeses, meats, La Ferme Vaudoise. Located on a level section of one of the curved, slanted streets, La Ferme did not disappoint. Lettuce, eggplants, new onions, headcheese, sausage, a tile size slice of sweet Gruyere and a tranche of Vaud blue in hand, I started downhill.

            It was then that I realized I had forgotten the keys to the apartment. No matter, I know the code to the front entry, and could leave the groceries in the vestibule. I did so, and retreated to La Chocolaterie Wuthrich, across the street from our apartment. One café au lait and a mini-quiche later, I got back on the #8 bus headed for the bookstore.

Wuthrich, from our kitchen window,  obscured by protective wire as our building is scaffolded and painted.

            My inspirations are two, both in French. The first is the idea of reading Thomas Wolfe translated to French. Wolfe was a favorite of my father; four years older but dead at age 39, just as my father was writing about the Hudson.  Of late, I wonder if the tragedy of Wolfe resonated with my father more than O’Neill. I shall see.

            The only Wolfe that Librarie Payot had was the Of Time and the River. (Le Temps et Le Fleuve.) At 775 pages, if I read 4 pages a night, I can finish it in the six months we are here. My question is: will reading in French improve or destroy my writing?

My second purchase is local: Lausanne: Promenades Littéraires. Did you know Charles Dickens wrote Dombey and Son while residing in Lausanne? Me, neither. And there are many other walks and spots associated with other authors. Once again, I ask, will all this reading in French be my destruction or salvation as a writer?

Meanwhile, back to Wuthrich for a citron pressé, (This is lemonade, not citron, right?) and to wait for the spouse to come home with the key. Then a nap, and we sally forth to conquer the Swiss banking system. At the University he’s been told that Credit Suisse is more cooperative. It is. It does take time, and we emerge with a dozen more sheets of paper, but because we have all the necessary forms on our side, it is done.

Supper at home, and then the tram down to Ouchy, the former fishing village on the lake. The view of the Alps to the south and west is all one imagines, and indeed, now I see the resemblance to Yosemite, with the massive up thrusts chiseled by glaciers. Formidable.
The Alps at sunset from Lausanne shore of Lac LeMan.

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