Petite Promenade, Grand Voyage
Yesterday, in Bitche, France/Hier, a Bitche/ Gestern in Bitche
I stopped to look out over the rooftops of Bitche–which were so beautiful, serene, and orderly in a charming, hodge-podge way. (Like all the most beautiful things–with just a hint of asymmetry to keep the eye interested.) It took me a few moments to realize that I was standing by a simple wooden cross, and I wondered how long it had been standing there, keeping its own unwavering watch over the rooftops of the citizens of Bitche. And if those citizens had, like me, been largely oblivious to its presence.
At the center of town, the church steeple kept peeping through the rooftops to note our progress through the streets.
But the watchers in Bitche were not only of a religous ilk: along many rows of old houses, the iron shutter stops (“shutter dogs”) were decorative women’s heads…some still distinct, others weathered or rusted to a ghostly decay. Charming, haunting, and resiliently functional. The story of life, n’est-ce pas?
And when all of the watching eyes had seen our small procession of four through the streets of the city, here is where we popped out on the other side: (The small photo doesn’t do it justice; click on the photo to expand it to a larger size.)
A day of small wanderings, but a fabulous journey. Surely the French have a phrase that captures this. Perhaps, “petite promenade, grand voyage”?
A few notes on Bitche:
*It’s located in Northeastern France, on the German border
*From the 17th century on, Bitche was a stronghold and much of the old citadel still stands
*If you are a modern history buff, Bitche sits very close to sections of the Maginot Line