If I were to win a plane ticket to go anywhere in the world you can bet I'd end up on this woman's doorstep. Meredith, our guest judge for this month's Write-Away Contest, is a blogger with international flair living in the south of France with her husband and two daughters, Emma and Nina. Her blog is Poppy Fields and evokes thoughts of Monet and Degas, olive groves and grape vines, lovely meals and afternoon naps.
Ever since my years of classroom French and picking my way through Gide and Camus I've wanted to visit her country but a conversation with Meredith is the next best thing to two weeks in Provence. The first question I asked was how a girl from America's midwest and named after Tom Brokaw's wife came to marry a French man and settle in Europe?
She met her husband on a blind date while they were both working in Hawaii--the big island to be specific--she as a medical technologist and he as an engineer for a French-Canadian-Hawaiian telescope. When her husband--then her boyfriend--wanted to move back to France she went along and eventually they married there and settled to raise their family.
While living abroad sounds so wonderfully romantic and exciting to me I had to ask a few nosy questions: "Do you think of France as home?" "Does it bother you if your daughters think of themselves as French but not American?" and "Is it difficult seeing family so infrequently?"
"France is my home now, when someone asks where I am from, I answer that I am an American living in France. The question [of my daughters' nationality] bothered me when they were babies but as they grow up (and maybe me too) it doesn't worry me anymore. They think of themselves first as French and I've come to some sort of realization that this is not a bad thing, their roots are here in France and the life they are living is good. Up until a year or two ago I went back [to the United States] about once a year but as my girls get older we are probably only going to go back every other year, staying longer than the two weeks that we used to take as a vacation. This is the hardest part about living in France, far from my family. I feel the distance, emotionally and geographically."
She may feel the distance but part of the charm of Meredith's blog is her ability to narrow the miles between France and her readers. She may be on the other side of the world but her posts make you feel at home and comfortable as if you were visiting for an afternoon lunch.
I asked about her favorite place to visit in France and she gave Paris glowing praises. For family vacation spots she nominated Presqui'ile de Giens where they rent "a beach side studio apartment for several weekends a year in the off-season and the girls can just open the door and go play in the sand and sea." It sounds wonderful.
Perhaps her most interesting answer was her goals for her blog. Meredith said, "I want to keep writing in English, maybe as a way not to lose that part of me. My life in France is good, but it is in French, which leaves out a whole part of who I am. My blog is my place to take the time to express myself in English, for myself and anyone else that might be interested." As for myself, who blog in the only language I adequately know, her answer made me think how wonderful it must be to create in more than one language and I felt a bit of jealousy for someone who has more than one set of symbols within their power. Poppy Fields is influenced by both worlds and melds the best parts of each into a pleasant experience.
Join me June 1st for next month's Write-Away Contest topic and guest judge.
Technorati tags: interviews, Alaska, France, mommybloggers, Write-Away Contest