Frigid Freak Easter

by Ric Erickson

Temporary sun,
temporary lack of wind;
Thursday, Place des Vosges.
Number 1.07 - Metropole Paris, Friday, 5. April 1996:- The time of the year when Easter happens jumps around on the calendar so much that I have difficulty in associating it with memories. Which is another way of saying, of Easter, I have few.

Sometime between this issue of Metropole and the last one, I passed the twenty-year mark of residency in this part of the world. This is not what I was planning - back in the days of dreams of Paris - and Europe! - oh, about 37 years ago. Ah, so what? How many other million poor souls have washed up on these Ile-de-France shores without exactly intending to?

"Daddy, when I grow up I'm going to be a poet in Paris" would have been greeted with, "Giddoutta here kid, I'm readin' da paper," and a whack upside the head. "Ya gonna woik inna mines like yor grandaddy - now haul some sawdust in; da heats gettin' low." And the abject poet would descend into the cellar and fill up the hopper with endless barrels of sawdust and sweep the dirt floor neat as a pin afterwards. Oh, woe!

The old swede was right. I didn't end up as a poet - who does? Instead I am writing this 'Diary' and before this it was cartoons for decades - there was writing before that too - but no poetry. This morning I have been scrounging around, thinking of how lucky Dave Barry is - and don't believe any of that guff about hard work - toiling away over the other side of the Atlantic in Miami... Mercy, Easter in Miami! See what I mean? Lucky.

When old Dave is stuck he gets out his guitar, if he has one - no, think again: every American Dave's age has one - or he trots out his dogs; the number one dog 'Forklift' and the backup dog, 'Jersey Joe' and spiels off a little 750 word anecdote, and then he goes off to the racetrack or the baseball or the coke dealer gang war that they have there like a regular feature - I saw Miami Vice for over two years dubbed in French, before I heard Sonny Crocket talk like a mouse with tweeters - but you get what I mean... Dave has millions of things to write about and all I have is this vague memory that I'm always freezing at Easter.

That time at the dinky hotel by a level-crossing out somewhere near Dieppe, we played boules in the gravel parking lot in the falling snow... that was fun except for the three-day frostbite.

Figuring the Germans could do a thing or two about cold, especially where there is a lot of trees - they might have sawdust! - I tried the Black Forest one time at Easter and it was the same old story: not enough heat in the pension and we had to go play the slots all day long at the casino in Baden-Baden, which was named after a peculiar marriage or by whoever was designated as first mayor even though he stuttered.

Another time, with these same Berlin people as the Baden-Baden time, we did Champagne for Easter. You know what we were thinking I bet: sitting around in these wonderful rustic next-to-the-grape field restaurants drinking gallons of champagne at a rustic table right next to the truly huge open fireplace piled with two cords of blazing hardwood.

The first thing that happened was the pension owners gave us the keys, turned off the heat, and went far away for Easter. It was too cold to tour places like Bouzy and we ended up buying champagne in a supermarket with a selection smaller than the smallest Franprix in Paris - in fact it was a Franprix, in a town that's on champagne labels, now that I think of it.

Actually, I remember being warm once at Easter - some sort of freak weather when I was 12. We rode our bikes down to the river every day and played on river sand and the adjacent log booms for an entire week in the sunshine. It was such a good thing we intended to go back the following year, but - you know - that was a one-time, freak Easter.

Unlike last year, this year I am not going to go looking around Paris for any Fritzl from Bavaria; mainly because I know that if I could afford to go there - I could spend the entire weekend in the Gasthof Leopold in Schwabing - unless it is being renovated again. But there's hundreds of others - all of them heated,and I bet you that some of them, down south close to the Alps, might even be heated with... sawdust burners.

It could be almost as good as Easter in Miami.

Ei ei ei, Ostern!

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