Sunday, March 31, 2013

if it's Sunday, it must be the park

Such a quiet day. Foggy somewhat. At least in Milan. Early breakfast, alone this time...

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...then a walk across town...

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... to catch the city bus to the airport. Diane will be traveling her own route much much later -- heading into Florida sunshine even as I'm heading into the still melting Midwestern snows.

It's as if Milan is holding back. Not ready to hand me that brilliant sunshine. No, Italy never once offered up a sunny day in the whole time I was here. Well okay. Fog will do. It adds mystery to the Duomo. Because if I am in Milan, there must be photos of the Duomo.

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May I use this opportunity to wish a Happy Easter to those who celebrate this typically spring-like day? Happy Easter, happy spring. Happy -- that's a key word.

My flights today are convoluted. The cheapest routing takes me from Milan to Amsterdam and then from Amsterdam to Paris. So that the usual hour or so it takes to get from Milan to Paris is taking five times that amount. And here's an odd thing: On the first flight, we have an almost aborted take off (the engines fire up and then the pilot comes on to say that there was an odd noise and he is turning back) and -- I kid you not -- as we are finally en route and approaching Amsterdam,  we have a medical emergency on board. Please -- is there a doctor on board? No doctor. No diversion this time. We land and then wait as the medical team comes to carry away the ailing traveler.

I think there has to be a message in all this -- perhaps it's as simple as this: we're all vulnerable. Stuff happens. Or, another version -- we're not taking care of ourselves well. We're stressed, harried, we move too fast, we don't take the slow road anymore.

I took the slow road in Paris.

We arrive just a little late. And the first thing I note is that it's cold here! 42 degrees -- just like in Wisconsin!

Nonetheless, it is Easter Sunday and the parks are swarming with people who actually do take care of themselves, at least in this way. Families, lovers, friends. Children, grandparents, sisters, cousins -- all here.

I walk the park even before checking into the hotel. I want that stroll so badly and now here it is and the buds are bursting and the flowers are blooming and people around me are chuckling and holding hands and just enjoying the occasional two second flash of sunlight.

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At the hotel, the proprietors again are kind and take me out of the wee single corner room that I pay peanuts for and place me in a slightly larger, front room. (The place is pretty empty this weekend.)

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And even though it is now evening, it is ever so light in northern Europe (it is their first day of daylight savings time). So I go for a walk. Sort of. The fact is -- I am exhausted. Early mornings, late nights, active days, worrying -- this just proved to be quite the full week. So I do a small walk.

To the park again.

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And up and down the streets of my neighborhood (where, despite the cold, outdoor cafes are absolutely packed).

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And though I had had the foresight to make a dinner reservation for this last meal in Europe, I decide now to cancel it. I pass a cafe where you can order savory crepes. I have one of those. With goat cheese and walnuts.

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And then I go to Paul -- the bakery that produces the most crusty of the crusty loaves in Paris. And I buy a sandwich and a tart for later, in case I'd be hungry.

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I'm eating this now and I have a 3 Euro bottle of rose on the windowsill. In France, wine can still be cheaper than water.

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I think I'm close to breathing normally again. I think the tension has ebbed. I hope this night I'll sleep more than the two or three hours that has been my norm lately. I hope spring comes quickly to Wisconsin. On my clock, it's after midnight. Happy April, happy spring.

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