There is something to be said for the sounds that become familiar in a new dwelling. For me, this is the screams of sirens that are almost as common as the signs that mark the streets they whiz down, atop the emergency vehicles they inhabit. I love the sound of a European siren, but do always feel a pang of sadness for their very reason for being.
Last night mon père et moi returned to Paris after a peaceful few days up on the Somme followed by a couple of days in Ypres just over the French border in Belgium. I was struck by the sheer slilence we experienced for a whole week as we meandered down country roads in our hired chariot – it was bliss. As we stopped off at memorial after memorial and graveyard after graveyard on our pilgrimage to visit those who served in WWI, we were met with nothing but smiles on the faces of farmers and townsfolk who tended to their crops and sprawling vegetable gardens. We both commented on the peaceful life that the people live up there, away from the big cities and industry that sit just hours above and below on the French and Belgian maps.
Last night, as we made our way to dinner at the beautiful Le Procope – one of the oldest standing restaurants in Paris and a must see for visitors to this city, we almost lost our hair as cars whizzed past, sirens a blazing and as I type this, I can hear them sounding in the distance. Trump is in town which is disappointing, and I can only hope that those sirens form part of an ample sercurty process as Paris prepares for her Bastille Day celebrations tomorrow.
We had the most amazing time up on the Somme with a wonderful group of fellow Australians who had also made the pilgrimage for our 100 year dinner last Friday. I have learnt so much during the past week and returned last night with a satchel laden with new books- poetry from the trenches, letters turned into novels, and at least a few texts documenting the history that was made up on the Somme 100 years ago to the day- I have a new found fascination for this subject. It pains me to think that the peace we experienced over the past few days sits at the opposite end of the scale to the chaos that reigned all those years earlier, and as Dad so aptly put it in his journal last night ‘Pin was taken by the sheer horror that are the memories and the bloodshed.’
I sat in the window of my apartment last night while the washing machine made its keep churning out endless loads of clean clothes, and I reflected on how much we’d seen and done in just a short few days that made up the last week. As I reminisced, I was treated to a private concert under a clear Parisien sky as the piano scholar who lives in the apartment across from mine, played endless Mozart. He is the same scholar who was treated to a impromptu performance of my own when I was last here in January, where I peeled off layers of woollens and prepared for a hot bath to fight the cold winter temperatures that had fallen to just 2 degrees.
As I went to sleep last night, silence fell and I said a little prayer that the pianist doesn’t have a good memory for faces- our eyes had met only briefly when I pulled the curtains closed to block out the sirens and get enough sleep in preparation for another day.
Pictured: Dad and I have been enjoying a morning stroll each day before breakfast. This morning on our meander around the Jardin du Luxembourg we found this treat preparing for tomorrows Bastille Day celebrations.