Sunday, May 28, 2017

Paris, with family, continued

It rained last night. The streets are now fresh and clean, as if those little electric trucks that sweep Parisian cobblestones had all gone out in the middle of the night, wiping the city of dust. But the sun is out again and we're promised one more very warm day.

On my morning walk to the bakery, I make a quick list in my head of needed items. I should stock up on fruit. Sundays and Mondays are tricky days here. Many grocery stores are closed on one or the other. The big produce market on Buci is open today, it'll probably be shut tomorrow. I get a handful of apricots and of course the berries and cherries.

And I think -- for me, this is probably the best part of breakfast here right now. The south of France apricots are deliciously sweet, the strawberries lack that toughness that commercial berries in the US tend to have. The raspberries are so delicate that they melt in your mouth, without falling apart first in your little box. Fruits here are beastly expensive compared to ours, but the flavors are without match. (By comparison, the croissants and pain au chocolat are coming up close in taste to the French stuff in many American bakeries.)


(Here's someone who either has a houseful of guests this weekend or is picking up bread for his corner bistro, with pains au chocolat for the staff to keep them happy.)


As I walk back with my own purchases, I admire the blocks to my left and right. It's amazing how the buildings are not at all uniform and yet they all work well together.


(This is the restaurant that's part of our building. The sunny tables are in demand in the cold season. Not so much today.)


(Which would you reach for first, the fruits or the bread products?)


(Snowdrop reaches for the breads, but eats fruits first.)


(Fooling around on my bed...)


(In France, it's Mother's Day today! Snowdrop gives her mom a snuggle hug.)


And what does a Parisian family do on a Sunday, especially a warm Sunday, especially one which coincides with the Fete de Maman?

They surely go to the park. So you'd think we'd be off and strolling in the Luxembourg Gardens with the rest of humanity, but in fact, we choose a different venue: the little Parc Boucicaut (right by the Bon Marche department store). Our host recommended it to me (he has two toddlers himself). It's quiet, it's pretty, it has a small (free) playground. And it has a lovely little merry-go-round.

What a great surprise for the girl who loves merry-go-rounds! This one truly is small, but on the upside, the rides are shorter so you can have more of them. And she travels solo, while her mommy and I sit back on a bench and wave.


Her choices are predictable. Car, helicopter, train, truck.


How can going around in a circle make anyone so happy?

We stop at the store across the street where she tries on sunglasses. I love these...


... she has her own ideas: blue! - she tells me. Oh fine.

And then we're back in the park where she does a little bounce here and there on the various kid playground bouncers.


(There is a slide, but these days, Snowdrop just likes to climb up and climb back down again.)


And now it's time for lunch. We choose a local creperie on Buci Street.


She is not an indiscriminate eater, but she does occasionally surprise us with a passionate love of unusual foods, like today: a crepe with blue cheese and prosciutto.


Walk home...


Afternoon. I could go out while Snowdrop naps. ("To nap" means to rest and she does that, but it takes her FOREVER to fall asleep here. Today she hit a record, finally dozing off at 5 p.m. How are you supposed to adjust for that one?) I don't go out. I talk to Ed, I go over my photos, I think about the last day in Paris (tomorrow).

Just after 6 p.m., I wake Snowdrop. We have one important thing to do! (Important to her, that is.) The merry-go-round in the Tuilerie Gardens!

Her mom is worn out. Her dad has work to do. I tell them -- it's me and Snowdrop! We'll see you at dinner!

(She looks way serious here! I made her pose by the flowers. She's not a kid you should ever ask to pose. She's best left alone to her own devices.)


At the merry-go-round I see that she has settled in to her Paris life. She loves the ride alright, but she is spinning all the while. I can hear her thoughts! "Great. I'm sitting in the train car. But gaga should sit next to me just in case, or else another child might come and take this seat. Okay. That's safe. But what next? I see that little monster child clamoring to get off his ride. I wonder why he is doing that? Is there something wrong with that ride? Does he want mine? Well now, I can grab the truck next time. But oh! Did I forget to ride the airplane??? Gaga! I so wanted to ride the airplane! And the horse! No one is claiming the horse"


It took a week for her to feel like she isn't an outsider. It would take an adult more than a year to get to the heart of a place and make it one's own. But a two year old? I can see it so clearly! It's all over her face and so much in her words jumbled up with the thoughts that lie behind them!

Look at that dog, gaga! That's a Paris dog! Can I have some water? (she knows she can have it because there are men selling it everywhere in the Tulerie Gardens, so she doesn't have to feel desperate.) We are going to dinner? In a restaurant?  Pasta? Yes, I want that. Thank you! (Can you say it in French?) Merci!

We are at  Les Editeurs and it is perfect for us on this night. For one thing, it's cool. The French wont sacrifice the outdoors to air conditioning, so they oftentimes give you both: from some place inside, cool air comes in, but the windows remain wide open so that you are at one with Paris.


We have a complicated meal of many courses, many requests for many types of water and wine and who knows what else. Snowdrop sits through all this at first coloring, then eating, then showing her impish self to the couple not too far from us -- an older pair of Parisians. She smiles, she wiggles, she watches.

I say to them -- she is just two year old (Snowdrop always looks twice her age because of her incredible height). They retort -- oh, but she is just so magnificent! The way she tried those escargot, her eating, her drawing -- she is just wonderful!

So there you have it. We ought to go home first thing tomorrow morning, because we will have ended then on this high note (I've already forgotten that night of the dinner in the restaurant in our building...). The French (if I may generalize) are so persnickety about restaurant behavior and I understand that: the consumption of food is as big a deal here, in the same way perhaps that baseball and football are back home. Sure, they don't say "go Packers!" and "Yay Yankees" (or their equivalents) every time they sit down to eat, but they ask for respect for this obsession that they have with food (and oh, what a lovely obsession it is!) and clearly Snowdrop has delivered.

I tell you, we should just go home.

But we don't go home. We walk back to the apartment (which, I suppose, Snowdrop does regard as home) ...


And I offer her leftover strawberry cream cake, because I have enough of Ed in me that I don't want to waste it and she has (I'd like to believe) enough of us in her that she also doesn't want to waste it)...


Good night, good night. Happy week ahead to all!