In Paris

…in Tuscany’s October or Paris in November? Last time, my first, Tuscany was April, and May came along in Paris. They were warm and sunny, lush and green. That time, I was charmed by the somber weight of time in Tuscany’s hill towns. Walking the passageways, I’d aim my camera high, excluding signs of current life and aiming for a sense of timelessness.

This year, in October, the temperature had dropped. There was rain. The sun didn’t reach the cobblestones, there was moss on the stairs, and the smell was dank. We spent a week in a cottage made of stone, behind an olive grove and beside a turned-up field, with great brown clumps of soil waiting for another spring. I wore my shoes inside, with socks, even when the sky was blue.

I looked for hints of daily life. Gardens around doorways.

Laundry mussing walls in jagged rows.

Antennae ruffling roof lines.

And lovely bits of plastic — colorful fragments shouting out comfort and convenience. I never thought I’d be so glad for the sight of plastic in a hill town.

In Paris, my gaze went high, looking through the skeletons of late November’s trees. The leaves have gotten out of the way, opening a view to what’s beyond: the chimney tops that make Paris Paris, rows of them, chatting with the clouds or nagging the cold shoulder of the sky. There’s a lively debate in paint up there as well. Imagine hanging from a ladder with a spray can in the dark, adding your colors to the conversation. I met a pink fellow up there, who was following us around.

Some trees are still dressed, and they laugh orange. Chrysanthemums commemorate what has passed.

And the last few days, the signs of Christmas are unmistakable… as we head home to December in Seattle.

One day we will return to the truth of the spirit as revealed in the eyes or the voice. ~Joy Harjo, US poet laureate

One day we will return to the truth of the spirit as revealed in the eyes or the voice. ~Joy Harjo, US poet laureate