Thursday, June 14, 2007

Impressions of Laon

Laon: The Scene
The early morning fog swirled around the base of the deep green poplar trees standing tall and majestically at the top of the rise. Removing my sweater, tying it around my waist and wiping the perspiration from my upper lip, I sighed with relief dropping to the seat. I reached into my clutch for the francs necessary to pay for the privilege of resting on the aged, scroll-worked, iron bench. The caretaker, an erect, uniformed, ‘fiftyish’ man, received the francs with stiff somewhat disapproving politeness while murmuring a short “merci”.

As I caught my breath from the long climb, my gaze dropped to the ancient cobblestones at my feet. The cobblestones, a multi-colored puzzle of grays reached across the plaza to the Medieval Gothic style church. Black mildewed bullet holes still riddled the enormous stone structure. I shifted my scrutiny skyward to the Rosetta stained glass window, amazingly still intact after centuries of wars. Here at the top of the craggy knoll, against the backdrop of misty pale blue sky and a variety of greens and purples of champagne vineyards as far as the eye could see, the evaporating haze created an impressionistic vagueness; the cathedral stood like an immortal guardian above the surrounding landscape.

Around my ankles I felt the rub of the orange and black patchwork kitten who followed me through the ivy covered walled gates of the old city. I distractedly heard the muffled sounds of a town awakening; the clatter of old worn wooden carts being brought around with wares, shop doors creaking open, dogs barking, children giggling, birds chirping. A waft of delicious smells, of coffee and pastries and baking bread soon reached my nose and irresistably my stomach growled. Carts full of multihued vegetables, fruits, and flowers soon filled the square. As the town stirred with the increased tempo of sights and sounds, excitement filled the air. It was Thursday, Marche’ Day. Short Story by Maureen Sevilla

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