Thursday, March 29, 2018

Paris waiting game

Travel across the ocean brings great pleasures, but it must be recognized that there are downsides. For me, one of the biggest is the time difference that separates me from family and Ed. Back home, everyone's day winds down in the evening. That is when they have time to talk, text, exchange stories in a less harried way. Their down time is my "I really should be sleeping" time -- 3, maybe 4 in the morning. This, even more than jet lag and a busy schedule, accounts for my loss of sleep when I travel. And I wouldn't give up these precious conversations or texts for the world! They keep me going every bit as much as a good night's rest. I try to teach myself to sleep later the next morning. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes it is not.

Of course, on Tuesday night, there was such chaos in my head that sleep was the very last thing I could indulge. My girl was in the hospital and for some reason, I convinced myself that her baby would be born quickly, even though my own labors were very very long. I mean, I was so ready to welcome this child into the world, even if I was thousands of miles away -- she should be born!

The phone stayed close to my pillow and I willed it to ring.

It didn't ring.

On Wednesday, I woke up (well, got out of bed) to rain. I was so sure that this child was about to be born (because, after all, I waited all night for her, thus surely she will oblige by popping right out!) that I did not want to leave the hotel. Yes, I now carry my own portable hotspot, so I have WiFi and therefor messaging and FaceTime and all the other accoutrements of modern life right in my pocket. But texting about a child's birth on a busy street in the rain just seemed so not right that I ate breakfast at the hotel (nice, but not as inexpensive as on the town). A solid one, so that I could save and skip lunch.


... and then I went back upstairs and lay down and waited, with phone resting on the pillow again.

By 11:30, I scolded myself good and hard. Spending the whole day staring at the phone on the pillow is just not a good use of Paris time.

So I set out. Hand on phone, just in case I missed its vibration. (Other hand holding tight to hotel umbrella.)


Still, the walk felt aimless. I had considered going to a museum to see a special exhibition that sounded interesting, but I just was not focused. Except on the phone. I was very focused on that.


I didn't take many photos. It's never easy in the rain. It's even less easy with one hand on the phone (and the other holding an umbrella). But the true reason was that I have the right mindset to take pictures in a place like Paris. It's not an easy city to photograph under the best of circumstances and especially not when you're asking yourself again and again why the phone isn't buzzing.

I sidestepped into a little park where Snowdrop and her mommy and I hung out once, so that she could ride the wee little merry-go-round there. I see that Paris really is forging ahead with spring flowers! People are complaining about the soppy wet spring here, about the cold, about the lack of sunshine, but heck, you've got flowers blooming! We should be so lucky at the farmette!

(Here's a beautiful patch of Lenten roses (helleborus), which aren't true roses - rather, they belong to the buttercup family - but it's one of the earliest blooming perennials, often coinciding with Lent, hence the name.)


I meander into Le Bon Marche, the rather posh and always lovely to look at department store with the great food halls. Everything is geared for Easter (Paques in French). I smile at how different Easter displays are in France. It's really all about food, of course. I consider stuffing a cake into my suitcase, but good sense prevails.


And when I step outside, there's sunshine! This is so often the case in Paris! It rains, it doesn't rain, it rains again.

With sunshine comes clarity: I had been in a little shop, looking at colorful spoons last night when I got that message telling me there would be a baby soon. Soon, but not that soon! Were I home, I would have gone about my business. But being away, my business has suddenly become thinking about what's happening back home.

Still anxious (though where birth is concerned, no news is usually good news; if there was a rush to deliver -- that's when I should worry), but somewhat cheered by the blue skies, I walk back to the hotel.


I have an hour before my dinner reservation clicks in.

And in that hour, I get the text and the photo of Primrose.


I don't know why I should be surprised: I went through this with my two daughters and more recently Snowdrop -- the sudden realization that I am in love with this child! She is beautiful and important and she is theirs and her life will be rich with adventure and she will be loved, so loved!

I walk to my dinner with such a spring in my step! And suddenly taking pictures is fun once more!

(Crossing the Boulevard St. Germain)


At Semilla, I'd asked for a spot at the bar -- it's usually considered the lesser place to eat, but I like it, because the people watching is better there. Today, they decided to "upgrade" me to the place I had the first time I ever ate here -- looking out onto the kitchen.

Semilla is and has been for a while my favorite eating place in Paris and that says a lot. It's perhaps a bit expensive for my budget, but these days I give myself just one great eating experience per trip and this one is it!

There is nothing pretentious about presentations or even really about the menu. It's short, so if you're a fussy eater, think twice about coming here, but the food is always perfectly prepared.

Today, my wait person is young, energetic and enthusiastic and so she gets the full Primrose story, down to the picture that was texted to me. Felicitations, Toutes nos felicitations!

I treat myself to a glass of champagne.


And except for the three hours between 2 and 5 a.m. when touching base with beloveds was in order, yes, I did catch some sleep!

Paris woke up to a brilliant day today! So there, you complainers! (I glance out my window -- cornflower blue.) The sun shines brightly on Paris after all.


On this trip, I've had snippets of Paris all over the week, but today surely is the most relaxed and cheerful snippet. I have a flight out at 4, which means that I have at least until noon to meander without goal or purpose.

But first, breakfast at the very sunny Les Editeurs. (Selfie!)


I walk to the nearby market -- it's a fine one, with all that a Parisian would want for a good meal, but it's not a tourist draw. Stalls of produce, of seafood, of cheese. Staples of a solid dinner.


And then I turn sharply south. To the park! I want to have that meditative stroll that seemed to have been so completely out of place yesterday.

And right away, I'm hit with hundreds of primroses! Other flowers too, but my eyes are on the primroses.


I'm thinking how several of my visits to Paris had Snowdrop so imprinted on them and that this one surely must belong to Primrose. And then I catch myself. No, not ever will it be one or the other or over or under this or the next. When a new grandkid is born, that park, my thoughts, my love belong to all, non stop, all the time.


Primroses and snowdrops -- the garden is large. It can accommodate all.

(A quiet garden walk -- lovely and gentle...)



(No shortage of flowers...)


(This will be the only viewing of the Eiffel Tower on this trip. Snowdrop would have been disappointed!)


(Many of the chestnuts in the park are being replaced by disease resistant elms, but right now you can still find small chestnut groves. )


(Even among the tulips -- the yellow faces of primroses...)


And now it's time to fly home.

One last glance -- from the Odeon, looking down toward the Breizh creperie, Les Editeurs -- all those friends of mine that make Paris feel like (almost) home.


Not too many hiccups on my travel back. The commuter train stalls, but the flight is on time and has WiFi, just in case a message about Snowdrop or Primrose comes my way.  The connection in Detroit is smooth and late late oh so late in the evening. Ed will be waiting at the airport to take me home. What an incredible week! It seems such a long time since I've been home!