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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Sunday, August 14, 2005

It's quiet. Too quiet.

Paris is quiet in the summer time. You might expect otherwise. This is, after all, a tourist mecca. And tourists there are plenty. Locals, however: that's a different story.

All over town, save for the tourist destinations, summer is a time when it seems some great French mother has told the city to hush. And why? Because the French leave.

Those that can bug out of the city for the whole summer do. And that's more folks than you'd think. People who live in Paris, proper, are not poor, and lots have country homes in Normandy, Brittany, Burgundy and elsewhere.

Those that can't leave for the whole summer, leave at least for most of August. What North Americans call Labor Day, the French call the month of August. It is a national right and tradition to take a minimum of two weeks off, and most take three or four.

But, of all the quiet times in this quiet month during this quiet season, this is absolutely the quietest weekend of the Paris year. For this is a long weekend in the middle of August. Anyone who wasn't already out of town for the summer, and anyone who wasn't already out of town for August, has well and truly bugged out for the beach this weekend. If it weren't for the paternalistic French state, which tells the bakers when they are allowed to go on vacation, there wouldn't even be anyone in town to sell us bread.

The streets are quiet. By the Seine, the wind is easily heard in the trees, there is so little traffic. The normal neighborhood sounds that drift through our open French doors on the breeze simply aren't there, save for the quarter-hour tolling of the bells from the Church of St Ferdinand down on the corner.

So, this weekend, we are playing tourist -- the only avenue of human contact -- with our dear Friends, Margot and Steve, visiting from North Carolina. From Notre Dame's organ blasting out at the beinning of mass, to Paris Plage, to tea at Marriage Freres in the Marais, to the Eiffel Tower sparkling at the top of the hour after dark. We have even been taking in some of the world-renowned high-brow culture for which France is famous (see photo). It's actually a wonderful time to be in Paris, because it's the one time that this beautiful city is also a tranquil city, two words that don't go together often enough.

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