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Paris April 8, 2010

Posted by jayocallahan in Adventures.
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Paris is alive.  Parisians dress with style.  There’s an elegance about them as you pass them on the street. And you can hear them because a great many of the women and some men wear boots with hard heels that make a sharp clicking sound on the stone sidewalks. It’s an expensive city.  A cup of coffee can cost five dollars. But it’s vibrant.

Every day we’ve taken the Batobus, a passenger boat, down the Seine.  Standing on the stern of the boat we revel in the cool air and look at the grand buildings of Paris while an occasional gull glides above us.  We see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower.  We go into Musee D’Orsay and are taken with Degas’s color.  His nudes are sensual and warm but mostly they are beautiful.  He catches an intimacy that is true.  Then on to Van Gogh and this year I spent nearly an hour looking at a single paining, Chaumes de Cordveille a Auvers-sur-Oise. It’s a painting of a thatched cottage with a garden in back and a hillside above.  His trees bend and curve and the white clouds in his blue sky seemed to be in motion.  It’s as if Van Gogh could see the energy and beauty inside trees, sky, hay and even a thatched roof.

The sun seems happy to be in Paris reminding me of Baudelaire’s lines in his poem, The Sun.  “He (the sun) enters like royalty, unaccompanied by officials.”

All the palatial hotels and all the hospitals. So many writers, painters, sculptors and thinkers have wandered the streets of Paris. Baudelaire, Van Gogh, Monet, Hemmingway, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Simone de Beauvoir and Simone Weil.  It is Simone Weil who speaks to me most deeply now.  She was as one writer put it, one of history’s clearest witnesses to light and grace and to a genuine compassion for others. Weil writes with a lightening clarity and urges us to learn to pay attention.  As I looked at Degas and Van Gogh this morning it was clear they paid attention with heart and soul.

Paris awakens in me the desire to tell the truth in my stories.  As I sit on the Batobus in the Seine I know the main image in my next story will be the Nolachucky River. May the story have truth and beauty.  There are both in Paris.

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