Europe / Snapshots

Finding the Light in Rouen


Did I mention it rains a lot here?

Oh, I did? Like, each time I write? Well, let me say it again. It rains here. And for anyone who knows me well, a sky that is not blue often poses a problem for me. Yet I seem to continuously place myself in rainy, grey, cold places (moved from Texas to Upstate New York…moved from Upstate New York to the Armpit of France -which, mind you, is the local nickname for Rouen, and not an invention of my own twisted mind). Glutton for punishment, I tell you.

And then I look up into the sky at two o’clock in the morning, or catch the sunrise glowing above the slate roofs, or lose myself watching these wispy, unearthly clouds racing across a pastel smeared sky, and I understand. I understand why Rouen is the birthplace of Impressionism. I understand why artists painted these skies so many times, why the water and the grass and the Cathedral look so magical in their works. It’s because they’re magical in real life, too.

The sky is different here. I mean that, as strange as it sounds. And trust me, I know the sky. Texas sky is cool, brilliant blue, to distract you from all the brown grass and dried-up rivers. Upstate New York  sky is soft, and the clouds are fluffy, and even when the rain is rushing over you, the precipitation is somehow still so far away. The sky in Rouen is close, like if you found a long enough ladder, you could climb up into it. It’s fast, and mutable, and refuses to stay still. The clouds have somewhere to be, somewhere to go. The sun is never content to simply throws rays of light; it must bend and manipulate them, light certain places while throwing the rest into deep shadow. It’s never just blue, but gold, and pink, and a deep purple that borders on grey, but simply isn’t.

Whereas in the past I have been almost unable to bear a grey sky, always waiting for my next blue day, for my next direct contact with the sun, here, I am somehow content. When it is grey, it is grey. I am still happy. I am still me, and excited for whatever that day might entail. I have given up the waiting, and the wanting, and the wishing, so that I can be here.

I would be lying if I claimed all days were the same for me; I will always prefer the hot, blue, dazzling days where anything seems possible. But the grey and the rainy hold their own beauty as well.

And there’s always a sunrise, always a sunset, to behold and embrace. There is always the night sky, with stars so near I feel we are becoming friends.



One thought on “Finding the Light in Rouen

  1. Amy, your words paint pictures, and I can see them. And I know what you mean.
    Those cloudy skies can be so interesting. After living on the desert in Arizona where the sun is your constant companion, it is thrilling to see those beautiful clouds. And, up in the mountains, where you are even closer to them, they are spectacular. Enjoy! and then dance when the sun shines.

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