Here, à France, Toussaint/All Soul’s Day is alive ‘n kickin. Across the street from chez nous, is the cimetière and I have front row seats.

It has been an eye-opener for me. Almost 30 years ago, before this incarnation was even considered, I was in a taxi coming from Versailles, going INTO Paris on the périphérique. There were no cars. Just us. Quickest ride ever.

Opposite direction, heading OUT of Paris, traffic was at a standstill.

I asked the driver, where is everybody going and why is no one driving into Paris! His response was Madame, it is Toussaint. Everyone goes home to their families on Toussaint.

Fast forward to here and now, locals begin their annual ritual of cleaning their family graves early in October.

Armed with buckets, rags, brooms, soap and water, they spend hours bending over, cleaning, wiping and polishing the family plot. Hours. It’s all ‘achatter’ in the graveyard – alive with past and present.

Leaning on the stones, they reconnect with fellow villagers to catch up on the year gone by; joking, laughing, remembering. It’s its own camaraderie.

Fresh plants, vases, adornments are situated, dusted up and arranged just so. This carries on month-long as part of l’habitude – the habit – as one piece in the rhythm of life in a small French village.

Chrysanthemums, the flower of France for Toussaint, show up in every store by the hundreds – thousands, actually but who’s counting. By today the shelves are empty.

Families I know, with their relatives, come to pay respect and reflect. The whole lineage from grand-mère and grand-père to children, line up in Silence, leave fresh bouquets and then go home for a family meal.

Honor is honored.

Love Carries Ever On in the Circle Life.