“Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.”
—Teju Cole, writing about the election.
“The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant, America.”
—John Weaver,Republican strategist who ran the presidential campaign of Gov. John Kasich, on the appointment of Stephen Bannon as chief strategist for the Trump presidency.
We’re in the states at the moment, engulfed in sadness and terror after the election. Sad for the for the inequality in our country that causes such terrible problems for our society, sad for those who rightly feel they’ve been left behind, and angry at an America who chose hatred as a misguided solution to our problems. Yes, I know the choices were bleak, but choosing hatred is never the answer. Any illusions that Trump would “become presidential” and “surround himself with good people” after the election (the excuses we heard so often) were dashed when he appointed a white supremacist as his chief strategist. I’m ashamed that the underbelly of racism, sexism, and hatred that lurks in every society has suddenly become so acceptable in ours.
The saddest part is that the elitist Trump’s policies are very likely to make things much worse for the middle class. If we survive at all; we’re handing the nuclear codes over to an infantile, vengeful, impulsive man. For me, it’s just too horrifying to contemplate. I know many of you will disagree, and I hope and pray you are right.
Sigh. I agree with Mr. Weaver that we must be vigilant and vocal, but, at times like these my thoughts turn to Burgundy, one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I know to escape.
So it seems a good time to do a bit of an overview of our adopted region. Actually it’s quite a good choice if you’re thinking of bailing, and are lucky enough to have the option. Let’s escape briefly to La Bourgogne, for those of you who want to move, to visit, or just to daydream. Burgundy has seen its share of strife in the past, but today it’s a bucolic idyll.
Looking at the Burgundy map above, I was struck by how many of the place names revolve around three things: food, wine, and ancient history. There are the many flavors of tart mustard that hark from Dijon. The pungent Epoisses is the queen of cheeses. There is a plethora of wine villages. Then there are the names that evoke Burgundy’s proud history: Cluny, Ancy-le-Duc, Autun.
La Bourgogne has four distinct departments to explore: to the north, the Yonne, anchored by the pretty towns of Auxerre, Avallon, and the Chablis wine area; to the east, the Côte d’Or, which is pricey red wine country and includes the departmental capital of Dijon and the wine capital of Beaune; the Nièvre to the west, a rural and sparsely populated area; and to the south, our department of the Saône et Loire. Here you will find the good value white Burgundies of the Maconnais. Here you also find towns with historic monuments, like Cluny and Tournus. (Actually there are now more departments, as Burgundy was recently was combined with the rural Franche-Compté region, and we’re still figuring out the details of that merger).
What to do in Burgundy? You might immerse yourself in its rich history, visiting the châteaus, abbeys, and cathedrals that are everywhere here. You could grab a bike and ride the voie verte (the “green lane”, a vast series of bike/horse/walking paths). You could cruise quietly down the canal and rivers that run through Burgundy, in a narrow bâteau de canal. You might take a driving tour of the beautiful villages, and in between drink in the gorgeous natural beauty of the gently rolling countryside. Of course you could follow the food and wine, from vineyard to village to gourmet restaurant. There is much to do, but the pace is leisurely and the road is peaceful.
And whether you’re visiting Burgundy and just visiting this blog, my deepest hope for all of you is peace and security, in these troubled ties.
In the COMMENTS: Jim, thank you for teaching us more about Reims, and now I need to go back to see that museum, plus the light show that Barbie told us about. Paula has added another great cathedral to my list. Julie, I'm happy to know more about the little libraries.
FAVORITE READS: Paula recommends a classic book, The Road from the Past. Traveling Through History in France by Ina Caro (1994-08-01) is a history and travelog through France. Thanks Paula, for adding an important book to my list. Suzanne recommends a different sort of book, a group biography called The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters. Suzanne, I know you're a big reader, keep those recommendations coming, please!
And a techincal issue: I know sometimes your comments disappear and you have to add them again. I have discovered this problem too when I leave comments on other blogs. The fact is, they almost always go through, and I get two copies of your comments, one of which I delete. Thanks for your persistence, and I have reported the problem to the server.