Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Room 21

It was raining when we arrived back in Paris. We took the Metro from the Gare d'Austerlitz to the Latin Quarter and found our hotel. The Hotel du Lys was just off Boulevard St. Michel. Actually it was off one street and down another, so it wasn't just off, but it was a very short walk.

The woman at the desk pulled our key off a board on the wall behind her. It was made of wood and was stained dark brown, and it had small gold colored hooks to hold the keys to each room. There were 22 rooms, and ours was number 21. She gave us our key and pointed to the stairs at the end of the narrow hallway. She said it was five flights up, quickly pointing out that the light was better up there.

The light was indeed better in room 21 than all the rooms below, because it looked out on a light canyon from the stop story of the building. The grey light of day barely reached to the lower windows, but we could see the sky.

Of course, that is about all we could see: a tiny patch of sky above us and a featureless light canyon below. Perhaps the climb with our bags up those five flights of spiral-turning stairs was worth that view in the opinion of the woman at the desk, but I confess I was disappointed when I pushed the window open, thinking that she was telling us we would find something special.

Oh well -- no view out the windows of room 21. But that was ok, since the sky was overcast anyway, and we had plenty of things to do. We pulled the windows shut (so that it wouldn't rain in), and we set back out to explore some more of Paris.

Trip to France - Day 12

10:27:41 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

Uncle Bill

Uncle Bill's voice always embodied jazz for me. Don't ask me why. I don't know anything about jazz, and I only heard him play his saxophone once or twice. But his voice had music in it -- a tenor that just sounded cool. I suppose it also helped that he was the only person I ever met who used the word cats in that jazzy, beat-generation way.

One time when we were on the road from someplace to someplace else, I remember saying something to him about the high-tension power lines along the side of the road. I was flexing my environmental awareness, and I said (in a sneering tone), Well it sure is nice to see that they're not using trees to make those towers. Uncle Bill looked at me and pointed out, But trees will grow back. And with that one comment, he taught me the pitfalls of black-and-white ways of seeing things.

You should show this to your Uncle Bill, my mother once told me when I finished a paper for high school sociology. I don't remember if I ever did, but her suggestion said something to me about him that I never forgot.

Then there were long years of silence. I heard of him thru my cousins from time to time, and I suspect he might have heard of me. And then he got very sick a few years ago, so sick that I didn't recognize him when I saw him on the other side of the funeral parlor when my grandfather died.

And that was the last time I saw him. Uncle Bill died last week of a heart attack.

I didn't know him particularly well. Although we exchanged email a few times recently. He read these fish regularly and said something once about my writing style that made me very, very proud. I was never able to tell him just how much his comments meant. Because he died last week of a heart attack.

Uncle Bill died last week, and tonite I took his name off the list of email recipients that get these jumpingfish. I didn't know what to do, what to think, what to feel, what to say.

So I shall just say this, Thank you, Uncle Bill. Thank you and goodbye.

9:29:43 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

Rainy Morning Catch A Train

On our last morning in Amboise, we woke early-ish and had breakfast at the hotel. The room was a bit dark, although there were windows that looked out on the side street. And it had something of a feel of a dining hall from a long time ago, although the coffee was hot, and the yogurt and jelly came in screw-top bottles. I ate the rolls with real butter spread on them like frosting.

After eating, we walked to the train station -- down to the river from our hotel, across the first bridge to the island in the Loire where we had walked a few days ago and where we had given Ben freedom to be by himself two evenings in a row, and finally across the second bridge to the narrow street that led to the station.

The walk seemed to go quicker this time, as trips back always do. Plus, we were walking downhill and trying to get to the station before the rain.

The weather held out until we were two blocks away, when it started raining and we started walking quite fast. We made it without getting too wet, and we waited with a handful of other travellers on the other side of the tracks. We all huddled under the shelters to stay out of the rain.

So far on this trip, our luck had been remarkable. Except for a morning of drizzle when we left Dinan and being chased by black clouds as we returned from our bike ride to Chenonceau, we had seen nothing but blue sky and sun. There were many places where the rain could have ruined our trip -- at Monet's garden, or walking the streets of Rouen, or at the Normandy beaches, or in the alleys of Mont St. Michel. But we had seen nothing but sun.

So as we stood under the shelters waiting for an east-bound train to Paris watching the rain fall on the tracks, we considered ourselves lucky. By 11:20, we were on a train heading back to Paris, and we were dry even though the rain was coming down hard outside.

Trip to France - Day 12

8:01:42 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []