Monday, November 8, 2010

Thoughts On The Rain

For the first time since I got here on the first of October, yesterday it rained with spirit.

The apartment that I am in is on the first floor – the other floor beneath it on the ground being floor zero – which in the way this building is constructed gives me a fairly unusual feature.  I have a small, exposed to the sky and the elements deck or balcony outside my apartment.  It is like being at the bottom of a very closed in rectangular canyon, with the sky showing itself up there about six stories away from me when I am on that outside-of-the-apartment platform.

It is rather Spartan, but it is rather nice.

There is a planter with a variegated-leaved, I suspect non-deciduous, shrub of some kind, a little pot with a waning geranium, and maybe a fifteen foot by six or seven foot area that I can call my own outside the curtilage. 

It would probably be a nice thing to have in August.  In November it is just a feature.

This deck or balcony is really the roof of the zero floor.  The building for whatever reasons stopped having the total square footage that was constructed on that zero floor, after that zero floor, leaving all the floors above that zero floor with a hollow rectangular core exposed to the sky.  My deck, or balcony, is actually the roof of that zero floor.  But it works.

One of the advantages of that deck with an opening  to the sky is that I can just open either the casement windows that open onto it and disengage and open the shutters, or open the French doors that open onto it and disengage and open the shutters – or both – and get an idea of what is going on in the world.  That “what is going on” can include either the ability to eavesdrop on the multiple other human agglomerations that share the outer edges of our open to the sky inner core with me – a fascinating, and somehow New York- like phenomenon ( it is easy to picture someone sticking his or her head out of a window somewhere in the rising column of residences and yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take any more” or “woaaah, it looks like rain” – or to see what the weather is doing.

Yesterday when I opened the windows, doors and shutters what I discovered  about what the weather was doing was that it was raining.  It wasn’t a Florida or Georgia deluge, it wasn’t some kind of mist or light rain, it was a Portland/Seattle medium heavy rain that just shouted to the skies “I am going to keep this up for a long time”.

I recognized it immediately.

One of the reasons I recognized it immediately is probably because, as near as I have ever been able to tell, Paris weather and Portland and Seattle weather are basically the same.  They are kindred. That may be one of the less interesting reasons why I feel so at home here.

So I looked out and saw extremely non-walker friendly weather.  For sure I wasn’t going to take a camera out in it.

That was not good news.  It was not good news for two immediately to me obvious reasons.

First, I don’t want to become a blivet, and exercise, somewhat extreme, albeit old man extreme, exercise, such as multi-hour walks, are the only remedies to blivetization.  I document in Screen Saver why running four times around Jardin de Luxembourg has ceased to be an option – and in any event, even when I still did that, rain made the flint gravel track such a milky soup that even when I used to be able to run, running in the rain in Paris was not an option.

Second, much though I like my apartment, and much though I enjoy those hours I choose to spend at the keyboard of my ThinkPad, I want that liking and enjoyment to be experienced only in doses that I choose to mete out, not in doses that are levied upon my by forces external, and forces beyond my control.

So, with the weather bad, and the walking and freedom of movement outside the apartment made seriously less attractive by the weather, I conjured.

What else could I do?  I could go to the Louvre, or l’Orangerie, or musée d’Orsay.  Those are inside, and even the smallest involves a lot of walking (Le Louvre s so big it almost defies comprehension) so maybe that would be a good rainy day exercise.  But the size of the crowds that I had recently seen at those venues dissuaded me  from that possibility immediately.

As it happened, that was the same morning that I had made my reservations to Chartres.

“Why not just go to that Internet café that you discovered on Rue Jouy and print out your e-ticket e-mail confirmation?  It has your e-ticket reference code and you probably ought to have physical, ink on paper proof of your right to boarding a train.”

“OK” I heard someone say.

As I was crossing Pont Marie, my umbrella deployed, and with absolutely no ill effects from the fairly medium-heavy rain that had dogged me for the mile or two that I had traversed since I had left the front door of the apartment, it came to me.

“You’ve got to just get out into whatever it is that Paris has to offer in the form of weather.  There is just no excuse for staying indoors.  This place is so wonderful that to do so would approximate what you were taught in grade school and high school to be sin. The situation on the streets is absolutely different, and wonderfully so, once you get out from that inner core view of what is going on – that inner-core view from your apartment.”

Today, the weather again being rainy-grim, as I was coming back from a visit to the same Internet Café, driven by a need to print yet another document for my Chartres trip, I was crossing Pont Louis Philippe when a pale yellow attempt at a proto-sundown had broken out through the clouds to the west.  As I looked at it, all I could say was, “what an exquisite place”.

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