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It’s February and it’s the first vacances. Ahead of me and the kids are 2 weeks of not getting out of bed at a certain hour nor having to be anywhere at any particular time. You don’t know how excited this makes us. We’ll have time to look around and realize we’ve landed in France! We’ll have time to practice our complaining skills so we fit in! No, we’ll have time to dissect the senses of British humor of the teachers at the new international school, to compare and contrast geography classes and chemistry classes, to recount sights around the rues, and the dog run-ins we’ve had. We can load up on sleep, on talk, on Picard and cafe food. After all, it will take time to absorb the fact that we’re sitting in St. Germain des Pres and not in snowy Canada and suddenly there are weekly Pariscopes, Bach concertos in Notre Dame, Jeff Koons exhibits at the Pompidou, Godard retrospectives and the old Kings and Queens gardens to walk through.

Andrew flies off to Thailand for the 2 weeks during this time, so the girls have friends over for sleepovers, and we get big piles of books from the library and time slows down. We do walk through the gardens and excitedly spy crocus coming up in yellow and purple, and our youngest finds the mix of palms and evergreens a curious mix of seasons. I can’t explain this except to say that Paris is only a few hours from the coast, and she seems to accept this. Neither do I elaborate on the coming fusion of the gardens they will see, they will see them soon enough, the Luxembourg in spring will surprise them with the overflowing flowers, the fountains splashing water, more palm trees. We walk on and see the recently planted violets, the beds freshly tended, and notice dried grapes from last season hanging on the arbor overhead. During the week, we do manage to get out and go see the bright oversized art in the Koons exhibit, and we even check out the Impressionists painters landscapes in the d’Orsay, which has the effect of making them crave hiking. Hiking? They’ve never said that before.

As we walk home from the d’Orsay, I begin to realize that the streets have become filled with places we know. I no longer need to consult my map, or not too often, anyway. We’ve been there before, bought something, met a friend, gone there with the kids. It’s our territory, our city. Sunday the sky is powdery blue with floating purplish clouds that make you think of Fragonard paintings. (see what Paris does to you?) The wind is up, a sea breeze kind of day. The Seine looks choppy. Andrew has arrived home from Bangkok. We walk behind Notre Dame to see if there is any music on the bridge between the Iles, there often is; we cross, hear someone playing sax, jazz of an earlier time. We continue to hear the band from the cafe where we have lunch. I’m telling him about the hiking revelation and we decide to take off the coming Friday and go to Burgundy. Maybe we will hike, I loosely think as I feel the wind blowing the late afternoon light across the water.