Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow Day

I'm fond of explaining that strikes in Paris are a lot like "snow days" back in Boston: a predictable, periodic nuisance that you outwardly complain about but -- provided they don't occur too often -- you secretly love for how they turn your routine upside down. Anyone with very strict work hours or important things to do is seriously inconvenienced, of course. However, those who, like me, are lucky enough to have jobs with some flexibility can either work from home or heroically brave the commute, arrive late, spend much of the day scanning the web or the window for situational updates, and choose the right moment to make an early break for it.

Last Thursday was a huge day of strikes in France, and I knew that it would hardly be worth trying to catch one of the one-out-of-ten commuter trains that would be circulating on my line. So I left le Petit with the nanny (who commutes only by Métro and thus had a smoother commute) and headed off to my in-laws' house to work in peace while listening to the radio announce the latest news of the chaos that was possibly overtaking the rest of the city.

Today was a real snow day. I woke up to a neighborhood draped in several inches of pristine snow, and a light but steady shower of flakes was still visible in the streetlights below our apartment. Since I go to work by train, I had no excuse to do anything other than lace up my sensible shoes and trudge out the door. I didn't mind, and I even took a few pictures on my way to work, since it isn't every day I get to see Paris dressed in winter white.

I was so absorbed in my book that I missed my station and my bus stop. Instead I got off the train at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and walked past the château and through the snow-covered park. Northern France in winter often seems like all shades of gray to me, and today even more so, but not in a depressing way. The snow outlined a sculpted vase of flowers, a flight of stones steps, the lines of bare trees, the black iron gate. Everything was swathed in the quiet that you only hear while snow is still falling.

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My internet service is out -- again -- and has been since last Thursday, and the earliest my beloved ISP can get someone out to look at it is next Saturday. So I'll be posting when I can from where I can, and likely not often. And to those loyal readers who also know me in real life and have recently sent me e-mail, know that I will respond as soon as my home connection is back up.

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