I'm home. Cycling still. And writing, presently in a cafe, trying to turn this blog into something larger. There were more than 10,000 visits to thejewishpedaler. Thank you. You're presence meant more than I could have imagined. Chen, chen. (beautiful, beautiful)
We saw this antique toy dog in a shop close to our hotel. We own its twin brother in Ann Arbor, received through Jo Ellin's grandmother. It actually makes a really cool bark when you pull its chain. It is one two pets with whom we share our home, the other being a very life-like, wind up, tweeting, caged song bird also inherited from grandma.
I'm not into pets. I admit the weakness. But I've noticed a difference between Americans and the French about dogs. Both have lots and enjoy them, but in America there is pressure for everyone else to enjoy them as well. One is supposed to admire and pet and be nozzled by other people's pets, even the pets of strangers. Which dog does not enjoy and deserve a scratch behind the ear? "Down fiddo." says the owner. "Sorry, he's just friendly."
In a week, I've crossed paths with maybe 100 dogs, only half on leash. Not one has chosen to be my friend. Strange, a animal behavior I assumed to be driven by the animal seems to be human culturally informed. Live and learn.
Crossing the Seine from the left bank I stopped to take this video. When I finished I saw a broad man's wedding ring on the ground. A woman picked it up and asked me if I knew if it was gold. She handed it to me and I noticed the kind of stamps on the inside that indicate that indeed it was made of gold. She happily put it on and headed away only to return to say that it dod not fit her and I should have it. She then asked for bit of money for lunch. "My God," I thought, "that ring is worth a lot." I gave her back the ring and told to sell it for the weight in gold. And she walked away again. When I came to the other side of the bridge something else caught my eye on the ground. It was another identical gold ring and another woman picking it up. How amazing. In Paris the streets are not paved with gold but littered with it.
Rome has its story as does New York, Jerusalem and everywhere else. Paris has two islands in the middle of the river. Once they must have looked like islands do in the middle of a river. Then they were lived in, defended and urbanized. Then as the city grew they got so paved over that only the flowing waters of the Seine prove that these two islands, St. Louis Island and City Island, were two lumps of dirt and trees and such in the middle of a river. The picture is of Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite.
Paris is a city, like New York or Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, a place with its own identity. Paris is not better or worse, just different. A collection of human habitation complex enough to assume a personality, habits and difficulties.
That giant clock pictured is in a former transportation station (therfore the clock) that now houses perhaps the greatest collection of impressionist art outside of the Barnes in Philadelphia. Today is Sunday and museums are free. A forty minute wait with people politely lined up on their own and a packed museum. Heaven with a few "pardons" mixed in.