The annual rituals of March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day festivals, and Spring Break were unceremoniously canceled this year, overshadowed by the impending threat of what would become the most crippling pandemic of my time to date. Now March has come and gone, leaving only a blur of memories and dreams.
That special time for renewal, change, and of course, travel, was rudely overtaken by an unfathomable enemy. As I cautiously look toward my wayfaring future, I allow myself to mourn my unrealized March Madness plans.
Writing from my “shelter in place,” I head to the kitchen to refill my coffee. Amidst the groceries stacked on my granite counter, I spot last year’s near-empty truffle box, imprinted with my favorite chocolatier’s logo. Smiling at the memory of the ornate, family run shop, I pop a piece in my mouth. Savoring the creamy decadence, I am transported back to La Grand Place.
Wandering the historic Market Square, elaborate edible scenes of personified bunnies and bold intricate flowers, fill every sugary Easter window. Young women donning bright colored aprons, pose outside each chocolate filled store. Their professionally lined red lips, greet me with a perfect combination of pout and welcome.
They hold overflowing woven baskets of shiny foil wrappers in various shapes and sizes, each representing the unique invention of its confectioner. I choose one and carefully open my sample, the rich velvety Belgian chocolate melting luxuriously on my tongue.
Entering the crowded shop, I am overwhelmed by the grand assortment of eggs and candies and festive displays. I select 10 boxes to gift friends and family, and perhaps most importantly, to restock my own personal chocolate stash.
The gloved chocolatier nods patiently as I carefully choose each’s contents. I point through the shiny glass case, to dark caramel squares, white raspberry laced eggs, creme brûlée filled circles, and liqueur filled balls. The never ending line shifts in wait. I finally exit, carrying my fancy, gold foiled shopping bags, brimming with the ribbon wrapped treats.
Tomorrow is our friend’s annual champagne Easter brunch in Reims. Last year I brought a chocolate version of the Mannequin Pis, which became the highly popular centerpiece of our elegant Easter table.
This year, I chose a more traditional variety of holiday shapes that incorporate diverse flavored centers. I stroll down the cobblestone street, lost in thoughts of friends and brunch and champagne and truffles.
Blinking, I grab my coffee and shuffle back to my desk. I resume typing, the creamy sweetness still lingering in my mouth, as I dream of how different things could have been.
March Madness Continues
I am beyond thankful to have my health and a safe place to shelter, but I can’t help but long for my new box of chocolates.
So, I pick up my phone, and call the airline.
To be continued…