Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thinking of Françoise

At the rare times of the year when it contains water, Gamone Creek flows down past my place and through a corner of the park of André Repellin and Madeleine. There, in a rocky corner, Tineke Bot and Serge Bellier have placed their steel montage that evokes the memory of the Repellin's unique daughter: our friend Françoise.

She was indeed a transparent young woman, whose purity and willpower had a mineral but steely luster. Today, I find it perfectly appropriate to remember my neighbor as an angular friend who—in spite of her relative youth—maintained a rigorous old-fashioned style of relationship with me (as with most people, I would imagine). Every January, she would walk up here with her dog to offer me New Year gifts of biscuits and jam. It was unthinkable that Françoise might address me otherwise than by a quiet and polite vous, never by my first name or by the pronoun tu. Then she would wander across to the slopes on the other side of the creek, and scramble excitedly and noisily through the grass, for half an hour or so, with her beloved dog Briska.

Shortly before her death (if I understand correctly), Françoise had indicated explicitly that she wished to be remembered in this splendid nook of Gamone Creek. That is the case.

POST SCRIPTUM: The cocker spaniel Briska has always been a most excitable dog. Whenever Madeleine strolls up here to Gamone, my Fitzroy is delighted to receive a visit from Briska, whose hysterical barking antics are so much more fun than the staid behavior of Fitzroy's usual companions—Sophia, Moshé and Fanette—who must be seriously provoked before they'll join in a joust. Fitzroy hardly needs to raise a paw to get Briska started. Then he gallops gaily alongside his female visitor, admiring her noisy and spectacular lunacy.

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