My son stopped for a quick visit on his way through from Burgundy to London today.
They were between trains so they came by our apartment for a lunch of scrambled eggs, fresh cheese, tomatoes, a still-warm brioche from the Bread and Roses Bakery across the street...home cookin' for the boy!
Taryn totally loves him and she is really delighted that he came to visit us. After brunch we go for a quick tour of the 'hood...he's suitably impressed with this area and the mega-shopping that is available on every street corner. We pass a men's shoe store on the way to Jardin du Luxembourg and he begins chanting softly, "Size 44! Size 44! Size 44!" Is that a hint, M'sieur Méchant Michael?
Within minutes, the two of them are walking ahead of me and talking together, so I drop back a little to take a few photos of them walking away from the camera. That's one of my favorite images...people from behind, as they walk away. We never see ourselves from the back and I think that it is a lovely image, so I'm grabbing as many of those as they'll allow. Once they catch on to what I'm doing, I'll quit! The game'll be up then, you see...
We stop at the Medici fountain in the garden and use it as a backdrop for some family photos...not quite what the original owners of this glorious place had in mind, but it's too beautiful to pass up the opportunity. Jardin du Luxembourg is a stunning 25 hectare oasis in the Left Bank area of Paris. There are fountains, statuary, gazillions of trees of many varieties and beautiful flowers, and it is especially pretty in the southwest corner where several hundred species of apple and pear trees blossom each spring.
I think this has to be one of my favorite spots in the city of Paris...it goes on forever, it seems. Green and lush, quiet and cool, with the water features and the acres of plantings creating cooling shade and delicate shadow tracings on the lawns and walkways. The design has been very well-thought-out...it includes something for everyone...a playground for younger children as well as pony rides, miniature sailboats for rent so the kids can push them out into the water of the hexagonal pond and chase them around the pool as they sail along in the breeze.
There are tennis courts, Sunday afternoon band concerts, games of chess and boules being played in many areas...quintessential Parisian life occurs on a daily basis inside of these 25 hectares of exquisite beauty.
Marie de Medici, King Louis XIII of France's mother and the widow of Henry IV, felt very homesick and was determined to recreate a model of her beloved Palazzo Pitti from Firenze, Italy in the area where she lived in Paris. She purchased an old hotel in 1612 in the immediate area that was owned by François, duc de Luxembourg. This is where the gardens and palace acquired their name.
As we walk out of the gardens and along the streets of the area, Michael realizes that we need to get back to the apartment, because he has to call for a taxi to take them to the airport in time for their train to London...so, we head back that way, positive that we'll be able to find a cab, without any problem.
Don't ever assume this when in Paris...
As we arrive back on the street where we live, I volunteer to walk to the bakery across the street and ask the owner to call a cab for us.
He tells me quite off-handedly that all we have to do is snap our fingers and taxis appear as if by magic. Well, that's what I think he said...it was spoken in rapid-fire French, which slips over my head like an old-fashioned nightie. He also tells me that rue Montparnasse is where we need to be to find the taxi stand. I return to our group, telling them to snap their fingers and watch taxis appear like tourists at a Parisien outdoor cafe.
Snap, snap, snap.
Michael and I decide to walk a few blocks to rue Montparnasse, doing our best along the way to hail a cab, and still none will stop for us. Dismal failures both, back we go to the rest of our group, telling them the bad news...no taxi!
It's getting down to the wire now, because it is 4:10 P.M., we still have not been able to scare up a taxi, and they desperately need to be at the airport by 5:00 P.M.
Taryn goes into the hotel below our apartment and returns with a list of taxi phone numbers that she has charmed out of the owner! Good girl! At the same time, Michael writes down a phone number that he's scammed off the window of a passing taxi. It happens to be the very same number that Taryn has brought back, so we think that's a good sign. Provident, in some way, we hope.
Michael calls the number, he is given a reservation code and made to promise he will wait for the cab in the very spot where he has called from. He promises! I think at this point in the day, he will promise anything to get to the train station on time!
Finally, the cab arrives, we load their luggage and them into the vehicle, shut the doors and then we blow kisses and wave goodbye until they are out of sight. This is a long-standing family occurence that my children and I have always done when one is leaving the other. It goes all the way back to when my grandmother would stand on her front verandah with her hands wrapped inside of her apron, watching the three of us longingly, as we backed our car out of her driveway, going home.
Always, when we began to drive down the street away from her home, she would gently pull one hand out of her cobbler-front apron and blow kisses and wave goodbye to us until we drove out of sight, with tears rolling ever so slowly down her cheeks as she waved goodbye. The thought of that moment never fails to bring tears to my eyes. She always told us when we came to visit that we could stay with her for the rest of our lives and it would never be long enough for her. What love that was in her voice...and in her tears cascading down her cheeks. Good thing she kept her apron on, for it came in handy to mop up the tears, as we left her.
I feel the same way about my children and my grandchildren when they come to visit, and this time is no exception. Tears sting my eyes as Michael leaves in their cab, just as they did the day Taryn and I pulled away from her home to begin this journey. She and I waved goodbye and blew kisses to her family who were standing in front of her home, doing the same thing for us, until we were out of sight.
Taryn and I walk slowly back to our apartment, and when we are inside again, it seems pretty quiet and empty now that there is just us, sitting here, Uncle Mikey-less.
The birthday gift that Uncle Mikey left for his Taryn....
The Raspberry Tarte inside of the little box that accompanied the €€€uros for her luscious Parisien shoe-shopping trip!
The exquisite leather shoes that now belong to the Missy, with love from her Uncle Mikey...with love and many xxoo's.