Thursday, September 28, 2006

Paris thoughts

In Paris, evenings for me are mad. Much to be done, food to be eaten, last minute poking into places that stay open only so long.

But mornings in Paris are sacred: I have nothing to do but catch the train by 10:30 to make it to the airport in time for my flight. It is always like that. And so I get up early and walk.

If it’s fall or winter, then being up and about at 7:30 puts me on the streets before the sun is up. It’s a toss up then whether to head for the Luxembourg Gardens or the river. Usually the gardens win. This time I went to the river.

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I never much cared for the heavily trafficked streets along the Seine. But I like the bridges. I suppose I could pick up on the bridge theme now and see in this some statement about how confused I am about where I have been and where I am heading, but I wont do that.

Instead, I’ll take you to one of my favorite corners to have breakfast. It’s a bit of a walk from the area where I always choose to overnight, but the walk is a nice one and so I do not mind.

If the weather is decent, as it was yesterday morning, I’ll sit outside. The world is a blur of activity. A fishmarket is just across, a butcher – to the side, two chocolate shops are down the block and a baker, a very unfriendly baker, is around the corner.

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And there is an elementary school a block away. Since this is the center, the hub of the left bank, the kids all look well-tended, cared for, not wanting.

Still, children are children. Their needs are significantly less complicated than ours. They don’t need to cross oceans to feel complete. In the village of Vacquieres, Jean-Benoit, the winemaker, told me that joy for his daughters comes from hearing that a half a centimeter of snow is in the forecast. (They share that delight with many Wisconsin children, though I think we over here wish big: no dusting will do; waist-deep at a minimum.)

Across from my cafĂ© three children pause, waiting for the light. They’ll go to school, go home, eat their meals, fall asleep and the next day they will be at this same corner.

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Not me. I pay for my breakfast and head back to catch the train for the airport.