Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I DO love Paris in the Springtime

Yesterday I took William to the park to run his bare toes through the grass for the first time. I don't know who was more thrilled, him or me!. As we lolled on the grass I looked around and was struck by how special Paris is in springtime. We all know the song, and Paris in Spring is practically a cliche, but there is just something about it....

Like many places the first hint of spring is the crocuses (crocii?) poking their sweet little faces out from the still dead, still cold earth. Then, in what appears to be an effort to speed Spring along, the florist shops begin to sell 'jonquil' or daffodils; this encouragement must work because before long daffodils are springing up everywhere: in gardens and parks or, more intrepidly, along roadways or naturalized in the few natural areas Paris has.

Then slowly, softly, unknowingly, Spring starts to happen. One morning the air is softer, the light more liquid. Suddenly, instead of going home for dinner in the dark, the sun is still up. People begin to shed their big parkas (although Parisians must be a cold blooded lot as they cling to their winter coats for an exceedingly long time) in favor of flirty skirts and billowy scarves. Overnight, leaves pop out on the trees. Then the chestnut trees bloom, which is a pretty sight as they march up the grand boulevards. Before you know it, the sun has more than a hint of warmth when it caresses your face.

I know what I describe here is very much how Spring arrives in every other part of the Northern Hemisphere (well, except Ottawa where Spring is that week between slush and humidity). But there is something special about it here, a languidity of arrival, like it is taking its time and enjoying the process. In this way, the Season of Spring is very like French people. For I think more than anything it is the way people respond to Spring here that makes it special.

As Willsy and I lolled in that park, there were plenty and I mean plenty of other lollers. Tourists sat on benches to ease their tender tootsies, businessmen loosened their ties as they watched their Blackeberries, and lovers sprouted on the grass like seeds just waiting for sun. Teens skipped school to picnic (or more likely had a spare....there aren't too many skippers here) and nou nou's brought out the babies for a stroll. The pace was leisurely, the scene serene, no-one rushed or hurried. The sweet air, the soft grass, the bright flowers were all savored. Collectively, we breathed.

This collective pleasure is what makes Spring in Paris so special to me, indeed, what makes Paris itself so special. The desire -no GOAL- of pleasure is a phenomenon Greg and I notice again and again as it is so different from North American culture. Don't get me wrong: people here work hard, and they have to hurry-to-pick-up-the-kids-at-daycare-so-they-can-make-dinner too. But relaxation is OK. People make time for it. Moments are savored. Pleasure is on the to do list. I hope this ability to savor -moments, people, seasons- is a habit that I learn and keep from my time here in Paris.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Four Months Old!

Hello everybody! My name is William Gregory Jack Lamarre, and this blog is about me. I get called all sorts of names such as Willsy, Willy G, W and DouDou (this is the pet name French people use for teddy bears, and children. When I was in hospital my baby nurse kept telling me 'aller doudou!' to get me to eat more, and the name stuck). All I can say is don't call me late for dinner because I am a growing boy! At my latest check up I was 7 kilograms and 64 com long. I am big enough ow to wear some of the baby clothes that my Dad once wore, such as the sailor suit in the picture at left.

At 4 months old life is very busy. After a good night's sleep (waking up only once for a snack) I am alert and ready to play. My favorite toy right now is my own two hands....they are fascinating! And very useful for grabbing toys and for chewing on (Mummy says I am probably getting teeth already). I also learned to suck my thumb which is comforting. This way I can put myself to sleep, and soothe myself if I am upset. Mum and Dad figure I will give it up once school starts should thumb sucking become a habit.....but school is a long way off for me and I have a whole lot of learning to do before then!

In the last month I have gotten really good at rolling. I push off with my legs and lift my bottom over a few inches at a time; this way I can circumnavigate my Ikea mobile, and turn myself around in my crib. Of course, I do get my feet wedged in the bars sometimes and have to holler for Mum to rescue me.

During yoga play with Mum I also learned how to lift my head up while on my tummy. Before now, Mum and Dad kept giving me 'tummy time' which I found a real bore, and a good excuse to put my head down and rest. But the other day, Mum rolled me on my tummy and I kept my head up. I see now that the world is far more interesting this way! I like to look outside and see our plants, the blue sky and the interesting buildings outside.

Dad and I were playing the other day and he tickled me under my chin which made me laugh out loud! Mum and Dad seem to think this is a wonderful sound as they keep tickling me...maybe I created (two) monsters! Dad is wonderful fun as he plays airplane with me and gives me my bath every night.

My parents seem to really enjoy travelling and have taken me to several places this month. Our first trip was by car to Val d'Isere so Dad could do something called skiing. I never figured out what this is as I spent a lot of time sleeping that weekend (Mum says I was having a growth spurt). But the Alps were beautiful, and both Mum and Dad got to ski so they were happy. The best part for me was taking the train back to Paris. Not only did I not have to sit in my car seat for so long, but the scenery whipping past is really fun to watch! Mum says it makes her sick but because I like it she has to sit by the window. She's a nice Mummy.

Next Mum and Dad took me to the south of France. Daddy had to do something called 'business' and we went with him because we would miss him too much if he went by himself. We did a tour of a great big church where Mary Magdalene is buried (who is she? I wonder) and had some nice lunches out on patios in the sun. In Grenoble we went up a telepherique for a view of the city below. I'd never been up that high before! Then Mum and Dad took me to some caves that were used for observation during WWII but they were not scary as there was plenty of light coming in. The only part I did not like about this trip was that Mummy kept wanting to shop, which is very boring for me and I start to cry. Mum says I take after my Dad as he hates shopping too!

We had lots of great visits this month. I got to meet my Grandpa Lamarre and Heather who babysat me so Mum and Dad could go on a date. I also met Mum and Dad's friends Angie and Rene and Tracy and Phil. Everybody was really nice to me and we played a lot.

Well, everybody, that's what is happening with me this month. All this activity has worn me out....I think I will go take a nap!

Love, William