Year of the Rat

photo, morning, etoile, arc de triomphe Friday morning at Etoile.

And the Firecracker

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. February:–  The sun has been shining for a week now and according to tonight's forecast, it is intending to continue. Yesterday Uncle Den–Den said what a thrill it felt like seeing the sky after weeks in a cave. He should talk! While he was lolling around on the terraces of trattorias in Italy I was staring up at a gray stone ceiling.

Only Here and Now

It just goes to show that the world does not live only by pasta and sunshine. There are other things in life, like the Year of the Rat in Chinatown. The sun was shining and some bright light even fell in the narrow streets, slanting through the blue smoke from the firecrackers and reflecting off the gilding on the Rat of the Year.

It was a welcome change from being in Chinatown in deepest February, when the air is like cruel cheese, and your fingertips ache while you wait for the dancing dragon to arrive. Yesterday the colors were bright red, green, blue, white and the sounds were loud. But mostly it wasn't cold. It must have been about 13 degrees in the sun, and we could handle the ten degrees that wasn't.

photo, peugeot grille, headlights Trick lights on old Peugeot.

Tonight the TV–news had a pretty simple forecast for the next few days, from Tuesday to Thursday. There is a powerful high all over western Europe and offshore islands. This is providing an umbrella of clear skies and bright daytime sunshine. There may be a small bit of low cloud in the mornings, or it might be fog, but whatever you want to call it, it doesn't need to be worried about.

So we will probably have a high of 12 degrees on Tuesday, no more than 9 on Wednesday and the same for Thursday. This is forecast for right now and does not apply in general to every February. This is only for those who are right here right now. It could easily be ten years before it happens again. So if you are interested, get on the plane as soon as you read this.

Usually never a day late, Météo Jim forecasts eternal winter, so he has posted one more prediction that includes that dreaded word, wig. His appreciation of the weather situation, usually, in general, is worth something:–

La Semaine d'Amour

Once again records were shattered as the temperature reached 70 a–grad in parts of Pommeland. But then the temperature began plunging towards more seasonal levels, whatever they are. If we go by conventional wisdom, that would mean a high of 39 a–grad. However, if we factor in the Silly Season – last summer to this coming November, the conventional wisdom for that has gone out the window so let's just toss it.

photo, badge, peugeot

Next Monday, February 18, is President's Day again. This is a three–day holiday for some people and a three–day sales event for everybody else. All winter clothes must be sold so the prices of spring clothing can be raised by 100% and then reduced by 50%. Along with buying next summer's bikini there is usually a blizzard. If no blizzard occurs, then the next one will take place in April – refer to previous paragraph.

As for la semaine d'amour, the week will begin on Sunday with wicked westerly winds wafting Wanda Wiggins' wig aloft which will wend its way to western Europe. If anybody on Paris–Plage finds Wanda Wiggins' wig, please give it back.

As for the days leading up to le jour d'amour, temperatures will be around or slightly above 40 a–grad with snow/rain on Tuesday night into Wednesday and rain/snow on le jour d'amour. In all instances, refer to the second paragraph.

A la prochaine, Météo Jim

Café Life

The Year of the Rat

I may have mentioned Uncle goes to movies at Bercy. It is way off east on the right bank but the métro goes over that way and he said when he's coming back he breaks the return in Chinatown for some good eats. I would agree that was a good plan except that he called it Tolbiac so I kind of wondered if he was going right into it or only nibbling at the edge.

photo, street eats, chinatown Street eats, in Chinatown?

TV–news hinted that it was Chinese New Year last week so when he happened to call, and mention eating at Tolbiac, I suggested that we try to catch the new year parade on Sunday. In the event I overslept – I was sleepy – so when we talked, he said the parade was over already. All the same we decided to go to Chinatown and maybe have a bite or two.

The métro was crowded getting on but not quite as crowded as it would be if everybody was going to Chinatown by way of the place de l'Italie. By the time our train arrived the story was different, and the narrow métro tunnels were plugged. On the surface there was a huge crowd because there was some part of a parade – the end? the middle? – touching the place. It was like one of those mass demos you see in photos from the 30s except that it was in color.

photo, near original 2cv, fake nun The fabled 2CV, with fake nun.

We slogged through the mob into the avenue de Choisy. I didn't know where we were but there was more parade coming up it. I saw the young girls with their white horses. We heard firecrackers. We ploughed against armies. We followed mobs forcing their way south. More paraders came along, with more drums and gongs. After much effort we reached Tolbiac, where some of the usual types had a grill going. Hamburgers, sausages. Chinese fastfood is all over but never on the street.

We got into the avenue d'Ivry and found the parade's end and Uncle showed me the restaurant where he ate. It had a chili on the sign. He said he had been no further, so we crossed to some stairs going up into les Olympiades and took a tour of the maze up on the deck. There are, and once you get into the mall–like part, a lot of restaurants up there, plus a lot of other shops like you see in Flushing these days.


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