At The Camargo Foundation on Mother’s Day: Alone?

On the first Mother’s Day I have spent alone in some 30 years of mothering, I took a long morning walk to the spring-fed turquoise waters of Calanques de Cassis.

Looking down the mouth of Calanque Port Miou, which flows into Cassis's cove and the Mediterranean. Cap Canaille rises in the background, as always.

then spent several hours writing. Mes enfants me manquent, I miss my kids, my mind and my body whispered.  So I replied, “Yes. But I adore being alone in this quiet fishing village, in residence with myself.”

Life at The Camargo Foundation was above all quite and private: womblike. A week into my month-long Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Residency, I wrote on being away by myself in a beautiful place–a Mother’s Day article for my local newspaper, where I write an occasional column “On Poetry.”

Some space to think--high ceilings and beautiful surroundings in Apartment G.

In the article, I included two poems that speak from a mother’s perspective, one by Camargo fellow Bonnie Bolling, who has four boys; and the other poem about having breakfast en plein air with my four kids one Mother’s Day. “Mother’s Day Breakfast” is from my book Words for House Story.

Here’s a link to the article at

Now I am back in Delaware reflecting on the nature of the magic that weaves through Cassis, the wind up on Cap Canaille (I will post about the hike I took with friends up that iconic mountain) and the famous calanques.

For me Cassis’s magic was water, salt sea and underground rivers, elemental, encompassing, enlightening, nourishing. Everywhere in and around Cassis one feels water’s presence. Water lifts the body and the spirits.

A morning swimmer crosses the harbor while a boy fishes on the rocks below a seaside villa. Cassis, France.

Even the view of the towering massif, the first thing I would see out my window each morning, sometimes beaming its colors across the bay, sometimes shrouded in a silver stoll, was all about la mer, la mère.

Said my friend on her way back from a hike to the hidden blue beach at Calanque Port Pin–‘The calanque is like a huge blue vagina….”

From Bestouan Beach, Cassis, a morning view of the "massif" Cap Canaille, highest sea cliff in Europe