We woke up to some sunshine this Saturday morning. Sunshine and smiles—for me, they go together. In the afternoon, we went out, hoping the sun would hold. It didn’t and we got caught in a cold drizzle. Yesterday was no better—clouds, icy wind, high humidity. We’ve seen this kind of weather in Paris. In the winter.
I’ve loved my transient life in Paris —no question. But, weather-wise, this has been the most miserable October I’ve had here. It’s been overcast and cloudy most of the time and rainy half of it. This is only the fourth October I’ve had in Paris so, of course, I hardly have a good sampling and you may justifiably say I don’t really know winter.
I lived in Illinois four years but what’s left of my winter memories there are safely shoved in a box, rarely opened. Anyway, my head was then buried in books and, when it was not, it was completely immersed in the scenarios, sounds, and smells of baby care. The snowy slippery winters passed me by, hardly noticed.
You could blame a sensibility habituated to coastal California where cloudy cool summers yield to sunny sometimes searing autumns. Rain mostly inundates in the winter and tapers off into spring. I suppose I expected Paris to give us the scintillating Indian summers that a California October promises.
We have sought shelter in venerable old churches and have discovered a few treasures that way: a wooden organ, the colors from a stained glass window splashed on the stone floor of a church, abstract-style stained glass windows in a gothic church. Except for the tourist swarms at Cathédrale de Notre Dame, most churches are nearly deserted and quiet. We love going into them for some respite from negotiating the noise and hustle of the city. We don’t stay long. A few minutes are enough.
Museums are also a great diversion when the parks and gardens are too cold or wet for an afternoon of strolling and lolling to read, dream, or people-watch. If you love art, one visit at one of the big museums will not do justice to its collection. And there are always the big must-see art shows. The Paris city museums (not the grand nationals like Louvre, d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou) are generally free. The city museum of fine arts, the Petit Palais has a nice café in its Beaux Arts inner courtyard.
These wintry October days have not curtailed my movements. But I left a darker, cooler California summer than we’ve had in years and I suppose I yearned for more imagined halcyon weeks of summer than Paris offered in September.