Wednesday, April 28, 2010

sweet and slow

I was typing away this evening, 9 p.m., when I heard the cat. I know her from last year, a beautiful tortoiseshell with white boots who comes into the courtyard outside my window and meows. I admire her from my window, and she looks up at me, enjoying the admiration. This time, I met her mistress, the concierge of the property next door. We chatted, I leaning over my window sill and she in her garden, about her lovely cat, who was adopted at one week old after her mother died and was not expected to live. Her name is Titi. I told her mistress how much I love it here in Paris and in the flat on the rue Claude Bernard, and that I will be back once I've gone home to visit my own, deeply disturbed cat.

It was just about the most perfect day imaginable - a bit of a chill in the morning, progressing to sweet sun and then very hot. This morning, I did errands, preparing for the arrival of my dear friend Lynn tomorrow. At the market on the rue Monge I made friends with the Lebanese food vendor, bought a stuffed eggplant and some dips, and he threw in a lot of free stuff. If I lived here, I'd visit his stall every Wednesday because of his generosity; that's how markets work. Stopped at the great Mouffetard baker, where an elderly couple was speaking in the unmistakable accent of Quebec. They told me it snowed the other day in Montreal! And that they come to this bakery every day. "Ca va nous manquer," they said; they'll miss it, and so will I. And then I bought a bunch of deep purple lilac from a Roma child, to bring some spring into the room.

I also did a little preliminary check in some shops - Lynn is my great advisor where shopping is concerned, and perhaps we will be doing some together. In the afternoon, the hottest part of the day, after my eggplant lunch, I worked in the cool quiet of the flat.

The plan was to go to the Louvre this evening, since Wednesday night it stays open late - in my experience, supper-time is a good time to go. So I set off by bus at six, but the Pyramid was jammed, and so was the entrance at the Carousel du Louvre. Why weren't all these tourist off having their dinner? On the bus, I'd seen le tout Paris out on this heavenly night, sitting or walking by the Seine, wandering the streets - and I decided I just didn't want to claw my way through the crowds on such a perfect night. No Louvre this trip.

I walked home slowly, first along the Seine on the right bank, over a pedestrian bridge that's covered with locks, people have hung hundreds of locks on the metal sides for some reason, and lots of kids were sitting on the ground, making the bridge a kind of clubhouse, with the river flowing underneath and stunning views on both sides. On the left bank, I meandered through the winding streets around St. Germain, looking at the little shops, the packed streets and noisy caf├ęs, the light by now making the yellow-white of the stone glow pink. Emerged finally at the Jardin du Luxembourg which has a giant photo display I've wanted to see on the nomadic peoples of the earth - about 40 very large photographs mounted with captions, so I walked slowly around the perimeter looking at the lives of the nomadic people of Tibet, Siberia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, China, while on the other side of the fence, joggers pounded by.

One of the captions talked about stories - that for nomadic people, listening is one of their greatest pleasures but also vital for survival - they learn from the stories of guests what is going on around them, and the children learn from the stories of their elders. We've forgotten, in our western world, the significance of stories.

I came home to watch the light fade through the big open window, to chat with a neighbour about her beautiful cat whose name is Titi, and to continue work on my own small and vital story .

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