Sarah and I met through Ravelry, a site for people who enjoy knitting, crochet and other yarn crafts. I used to teach geology, another shared interest! Our friendship developed rapidly via email as we regaled each other with the absurd events of our lives, squawked about politicians and explored more deeply the inner life. After a field trip to Iceland, Sarah visited us in Normandy, France on her way home. She stayed for about three days so we charged her board and lodging in the form of volcanic pebbles from Iceland! I treasure them even more now, along with a blue schist pebble from California that she gave me.
We took Sarah to the Utah D Day landing beach and the tiny village of Ste Marie du Mont. She was overwhelmed with emotion here, in the first little settlement to be liberated by the American army coming up from the beach. One poignant moment occurred when a German tourist asked her, an American, to take his photo outside the church which had been at the centre of some of the action on that fateful day. Sarah did not want to visit the splendid museum at Utah Beach so we walked along the water’s edge instead and received a gift of shells from a tiny boy playing exuberantly in the sand. Our visit took us to Ste. Mère Eglise, the centre of the parachute drop, where the town preserves a detailed history of that time. We followed that historic trail, which includes the effigy of the parachutist caught on the spire of the church, and large photos taken on the day showing the exact spot where events occurred.
One day was spent in the fascinating medieval town of Domfront, close to where we live. While we did enjoy exploring the remains of the castle, much of our time there was spent examining the building stones and commenting on the suitability or otherwise of their use! The road back home follows the route of the Allied armies pursuing the retreating German forces in what became known as the Falaise Gap. At the side of the road is a beautiful rose coloured granite memorial carved in the shape of a flame with an American flag flying by its side. We stopped here and laid a little posy of rosemary leaves for remembrance. Three names were engraved on the granite flame and the numbers by the names indicated where these fallen soldiers had come from. Each one came from a place in America that had a special significance for Sarah.
So many memories. To help with the deep sense of loss, I have planted three trees. A ginkgo for Sarah (an ancient tree, recorded in the fossil record, just right for a geologist), a lovely white bark birch tree for Damon and a beautiful flowering dogwood for Duncan. They are in the slightly wilder part of the garden, where the grass is uncut to allow the clouds of little butterflies and moths to flourish.