Christmas In February

photo: group, susan, anita, linda, eva

Club honored by Susan, Anita, Linda and Eva today.

Chocolate Frogs Still Unfound

Paris:- Thursday, 20. February 2003:- No bush-beating - goodnews first! Er, weather news this is. In this department this town is coming out of a glum and frigid slump, with a doubling of temperatures from yesterday to today.

Okay, I am excited. Temperatures doubling from three to six degrees - in the daytime - are not really all that stunning. There's no risk of dehydration. But if you subtract the wind that was making three feel like two or one, then six is true highlife.

And there's more, better to come. Friday afternoon is forecast to be a general sunball day, and so isphoto: full glasses of the week Saturday. High for Friday should be nine - triple! triple - Monday or Tuesday's miserable effort. Saturday might be a bit less, but there are no complaints here because this will be a teensy bit above 'average' for the year, etc.

The France-2 TV-weather news guy was spinning in glee - so happy was he to give us good news again. He admitted - he couldn't avoid it, for it was there to see - that Sunday will be a return to a certain level of gloom, but turned his back on it and told TV viewers to ignore it.

First photo of today's unrehersed liquids.

Maybe we should. Le Parisien's prediction does show threatening fronts arriving from where the customary threatening fronts come from, but continues the nine-high temperature prediction. Let's bet on this. The odds might not be good, but what have we to lose?

Therefore, today, I put on one layer less and walk to the Raspail métro entry, hardly needing gloves. I wear them anyhow, just in case. My watch says the timing is good so I leave the métro at Odéon, to stroll down the Rue Dauphine to the Seine.

This is about 50 percent more pleasant than usual. Local school holidays are in their second week, but it seems as if two-thirds of Parisians are absent. On my way to the Seine I hear more American voices than French.

In truth, the 'voices' are of two women. Usually I would pass about 500 people between Odéon to the river, but today it is probably no more than six. This is partly because I swing left at the Rue de Nesle and take the alley-like Rue de Nevers, where there are no people at all.

From the Pont-Neuf I see that there are sunbathers sitting on the quays around the tip of the Ile de la Cité. Since it is really still February, the sunbathers are wearing clothes. But they are out there. All four of them.

After Samaritaine the block of terraces along the Quai du Louvre are well-sprinkled with terrassians, acting like they are in Paris in some month other than April. Not really brave - it is warm enough. When I come up to it, the club's café La Corona has even more baskers on its terraces.

There are a lot of clients in the café too. Word of today's weather here must have reached across the dismal Channel and up to northern, ice and fog-bound burgs.

In the café's 'grande salle' I find the server-lady, Linda Thalman, preparing to read Le Monde. From the looks of it she has read 'Le Monde' and is just about the read tomorrow's date just below the name. I save her the bother.

Linda says, "I got nothing done today." It is 15:00 and I figure there are 12 hours left of today, so it is early times yet.

She shows me her new digital camera. It is a small, shiny, somewhat heavy thing with lots of strange buttons, leversphoto: pre club restos of the week and other dials. She says she is going to read the user manual for it some day. In the meantime she is saving hundreds of euros a week by not buying film, and getting it developed, with double sets of prints.

Club members' restaurant cards remind secretary of breakfast.

Susan Ellis arrives. Susan comes to the club from Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement, after being in a dozen foreign countries in the 'past 30 years.' One of them was Houston in Texas.

With all her experience of moving into foreign countries Susan decided to meet the people she shares her apartment building with. For Christmas she made some cookies, put them in packages with a card, and left one packet outside each of her neighbor's doors in her building.

This club has had 'firsts' before, but I think this must be a true 'first' for France. This was such a stunning departure from the normal rules of behavior - only minor nods allowed to neighbors in the first year! - that many of them were thrown into a proper tizzy.

Outside of finding a bouquet of flowers resting by her apartment's door one day, nothing much overt has happened yet. But by letting her neighbors know who she is, Susan has easily skipped five standard years of 'getting to know you.'

Although unorthodox, it is a pretty good idea. Its the best one I've heard in the past five or six weeks. If I knew how to make cookies I would do it in my building too. I am very eager to find out why there appear to be pineapples on the roof.

Eva Lee arrives at 15:50. She is not late because she started lunch a hour before the club meeting began. "I have had enough to eat for four days," she says.

Susan says she knows a soup place that is good to go to on Fridays because the soup is made on Wednesdays. "It is the best day," she says, "Because the soup has been seething for two days."

With this, Linda tosses her lunchtime restaurant's card on the table, to join Eva's. If my breakfast place had cards, I'd throw mine on the table too. Lunchtime restaurant cards on the table are another club 'first' I think.

At about this point, the 'Waiter of the Week' Patrick brings a young lady to the club's table. She isn't here to join the club, but she is looking for Americans who live in Paris so she can ask them survey questions about frozen food.

Susan agrees to do this, but after 17:00, which is after the club's regulation meeting time. Susan says shephoto: super sunlight of the week knows something about frozen food. I used to know, but I don't anymore. It is hard on the teeth without a microwave oven.

Anita Bennett arrives, out of breath, from her Cordon Bleu wine course where she's just aken the exam. It doesn't seem as if the 'test' involved tasting any wine.

Blazing sunlight in café prevents photos of anything except liquids.
Continued on page 2...
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