Etna was Smoking

photo, group, tomoko aka yoko, bill, kathy Today's Group of Three, all smiles.

Spring, Two Weeks Early?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 8. March:–  It is definitely too early to say spring is here but it's getting pretty hard to keep pretending that we are in the grip of a nasty and freezing winter. Across the street there is a spray of green throughout the cemetery and it is something I am not used to seeing until after the winter blast at Easter and the frigid march of the workers and peasants on 1. May.

Well, before you get your tickets for that shindig, let's see what this weekend has in store for the deserving and needy. Mister Young Guy was doing the weather tonight on France–2 and wearing a tie. I guess that the end of their hippy phase. But how much more competent he seems! I don't believe and yet, and yet...

If you wake up tomorrow and see grey skies you are intending on getting up too early. It seems as if, by noon, the light wind will have switched, and morning greyness will be moving away toward the southwest, leaving mostly blue skies over our heads around here. The slight b–moll comes the day's high which is predicted to be only 11 degrees.

photo, water of the week Yoko's water of the week.

Then when we don't work, on Saturday, the skies should be mostly clear all day. Where they won't, won't be near here. Plus the temperature is supposed to reach up to 12 degrees. You might as well get used to this if you aren't already because Sunday has been forecast with more of the same – mostly clear, sunny periods all day, no rain around here – and all this with a high of 13 degrees.

Mind you the Riviera will be warmer and Sunday night's TV–news will be teasing us with images of the topless things frolicking in the surf while waiters run around the beach passing out colorful cocktails with little parasols sticking out of them, but we'll have Paris, won't we?

The Etna was Smoking Report

This morning it was bright enough to count the green things in the cemetery across the street. It made me feel like playing hooky. But we are grown up now, half a century and counting, so just like way back then I loaded up the bag with the exercise books, grabbed my crutches and hobbled off towards the club on the Right Bank.

Going past the cemetery the birds were tweeting, no doubt with joy. Now I toss the crutches I don't have, let spring bounce my step and note – truth at all times! – they weren't tweety birds but some kind of cow birds that terrorize the local cats with sounds like grawkkxkx. Not nice tweety birds at all but the kind of Hitchcockian buzzards that lurk around cemeteries.

photo, paris ballet ticketThe ballet ticket of the year.

All sorts of movie crew trucks were parked around Raspail but I ignored them and entered the underground gloom to catch a train, which was forthcoming, and which transported me to Odéon without hazard or thrill, to where I crossed the mighty boulevard and stumbled down Saint–André's alley behind Procope in a reenactment of last week's passage.

On my bridge, the new one, the sky was blue all over it, acting as if the town beneath, the one I was standing on, was paradise. I took a photo of the sky. I saw that the Seine is high and brown and if it keeps up before long the automobilistas will be paddling hard upstream if they intend to keep using the riverside speedways.

But that is no care of mine. The harvest of terrific posters on display was meagre, a definite three out of ten today. The only good one the one for Opodo showing legs and arms hanging out of a hammock, about 350 metres above a deserted beach of honey–colored sand. Reflections spoiled it of course, but we dream anyway.

Thus I was dreaming in front of the club's café when I was hailed by a suntanned couple sitting in the sunshine, waiting for my appearance so they could disturb my dreaming, transform it into utter confusion. I mumbled that the club meets inside, in the Grande Salle, and that the meeting would start forthwith, forthcoming, soon.

And so it did. However members Kathy and Bill Licarzewski settled on a nearby table instead of a club table. Actually they are really all the same but the slight gap between us was often filled with hordes of young ladies, the waiter of the week, and various other passersby. Kathy and Bill joined the club some time ago – frankly there is a lot about the club that is some time ago – and I had to be reminded that they are from Long Beach, just beyond Brooklyn, New York City, on what looks like a narrow sandbar out in the Atlantic Ocean.

photo, strapless watch Bill's Strapless Watch of the Week.

Even more astonishing was the story of how they came to the meeting. It started with a wedding in Ireland which is great for a wedding if it isn't your own, and then Bill found a air fare for Sicily which did not involve changing planes too often, and then there they were, romping around in the sunshine picking lemons and oranges off the trees and bushes, and flitting around in a Smart.

I was, of course, disappointed that it asn't a Fiat 500 but the new one hasn't come out yet so that's that. "Etna was smoking," Kathy assured me. Garlic was plentiful. Food was great. It was warm and sunny. The folks were helpful and friendly. Nobody was still angry about that football riot they had there a couple of weeks ago.

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