I take no risks catching flights home. I leave for them in plenty of time. And so, shortly after six Wednesday morning, I'm pulling my little case up past the Luxembourg Gardens, which are, of course, closed for the night, up the slight hill toward the train stop to catch the RER to the airport. Still, I can't help pausing, just for a second. There is a neat display of 100 years of French political cartoons.
I thought Ocean readers (on any side of the political spectrum) might get a chuckle out of this one (from the postwar years), given what we think here of the French flirtation with socialism.
(we need to nationalize happiness)
And that's it. Good bye Paris.
I pick up a last little pain au chocolat at the airport, but then I concentrate on watching the clock. I will the plane for Amsterdam to take off on time.
And it does. And in Amsterdam, I have a full 55 minutes to connect to my Chicago flight, which takes off just a little late anyway. Packed jumbo jet. You have to feel sorry for flight attendants these days. Catering to the needs of so many in such tight quarters for so long can't be fun. They do it with panache. I haven't encountered a grumpy flight attendant for a long long time.
So I'm feeling plenty relieved. Until we land and my name is called and I am told that my little suitcase and duffel bag --you know, with all those gifts for the holidays-- were not put on the plane in Amsterdam and wont follow me home until the next day, maybe.
Yes, but the next day we are to have a blizzard and then there is the holiday itself!
It's hard to get incensed with the messenger of bad news. Here's a job no one should like: dealing with the almost tearful pleadings of travelers who cannot understand why their luggage didn't travel with them (given that it did for 500 others). I can only guess that the packed jumbo quickly filled the cargo hold before my little cases reached it from the connecting flight. Sigh.
It made for light travel for the rest of the trip home. And, on the up side, the bus pulled into Madison just as the first snow flakes began to fall and Ed was on time and I even had a chance to stop by my office before the Law School officially locked down at 9 p.m. And to go to the grocery store and to cook a light supper for Ed and myself.
Wet snow fell during the night and by the time I took these photos Thursday morning, it was thick and heavy everywhere.
And all this accumulation is before the official blizzard - which came in the afternoon.
Ed and I shoveled. And then we shoveled again.
We tossed around ideas about skiing, but the snow was too wild and furious. And wet. You could quite stand still and not be able to move much on skis where there are no trails, no slick places to glide. With a wicked wind holding you back.
So we walked instead. Tentatively at first, but picking up speed and enthusiasm even as the blizzard, too, picked up speed and enthusiasm.
It was an exhilarating set of hours.
And easy enough heading out: the wind pushed us forward.
A little harder coming back, with the sharp snow hitting our faces.
Finally: almost home. Do you see our farmhouse? Just a touch of yellow in a landscape that's quite beautiful, but without much color to it.
Yes, the kind of day where you can buckle down and work. And I do just that. Grade exams. Drink cup after cup of tea. Shovel again, make stew for supper. Miss Paris. Miss the little suitcase and duffel bag. But so happy. Because I'm home, warm and safe, while the blizzard rages outside, making the old farmhouse creak and groan at the bother of it all.