After three months in stormy, wet, miserable California, I am now back in Paris. Question marks hovered over my head for days wondering what would greet me. I read that the garbage strike was over but….how many days does it take to clean up ten days worth of a strike that left streets unpassable and people holding their noses? Many as it turns out. By the time I was taxing from CDG to my apartment, garbage bags were off the street but still in piles on sidewalks. The news says the outer arrondissements are taking longer to clean than the inner.
I wondered about the airport itself. Everything I read said only Orly and Marseille airport workers were striking. In France, it is mandatory to tell the police ahead of time where, when, and who is striking. But I was raised in the US where surprise is part of the strike so I expect things to happen that aren’t known. The worst thing that happened, the day of my return, was that there was no place for the plane to taxi to. We waited thirty minutes on the plane in Frankfurt until the pilot was assured of a gate and then waited another ten minutes upon arrival in Paris for the gate to free up. After that, it was easy peasy. The unplanned wait allowed morning rush hour traffic to disappear and I was in my apartment less than two hours after we finally got to the gate.
I stepped into my apartment and it seemed as if I’d never been away. Time is something I don’t understand. I find it fascinating that some hours seem like days and some days pass by so fast, it feels like just a few breaths. Here I was, back in Paris, after what had felt like a decade of horrendous storms and now it all felt like a dream. It wasn’t raining and, though the sun wasn’t out, it was clear.
I suffer terrible jet lag and the common sense wisdom says jet lag is always worse going west to east. I had cut out three hours (or three days) by stopping in Michigan to visit my sister. I decided not to try and plan the jet lag or outsmart it or any of the other attempts at controlling what I can’t contol. I would sleep if I felt like sleeping and take everything else easy. So I made a few commitments and had to apologize for most of them when I was too tired to follow through. I did get outside and walk my neighborhood. The world was green, young green, shoots of baby plants green, that light green that says it can only be Spring. After a winter of so much rain (yes, I was grateful for California rain and that the Bay Area is no longer in drought conditions, but that didn’t make it fun), grey in the sky, grey on people’s faces, carrying an umbrella and warm clothes everywhere, I was experiencing a literal ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’
I managed to make it out to Parc de Bagatelle in my first days back. I knew I had missed the fields of golden daffodils that had taken my breath away last year. But Spring was here and I wanted to see the peacocks and the cats. I could hear the peacocks ‘crowing’ before I even entered the parc. Mating season was officially open. The first peacock I saw had his fan tail completely open and was doing a cat walk for a number of people with cameras and phones, and for two females who were playing hide and seek with him. It was a wonderful show. I kept wondering where all the feathers go when the tails start to molt. All the times I went to watch the progress of the new tail growth, I never saw a single feather.
And though I missed the daffodils, the tulips were on display, tiny flowers of yellow and purple, red and orange, magnolia trees with purple flowers at its base, all sang of Spring. I was so happy to be back in Paris.
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