: a weather thing
Parisians complain about the weather. " Le ciel gris ", "the grey sky."
It's not that they grumble a larger amount about the weather than about anything else.
It is more that it is a social way to acknowledge some form of communication with your fellow human beings.
It is usually done on the public way, in a rather elegant, and disparaging fashion.
They might as well be saying, "Love is a painful thing. " or " It's difficult to find a decent bookbinder nowadays." and sigh deeply.
Instead they will say, " I have never seen such a heavily damp rain." as if there could be such a thing as dry rain,
or " Did you see that very, very dark grey sky ?" as if a deep dark grey sky was not the usual parisian
sky from November till February 28th. And then they sigh, as if the novelty of the situation was weighing heavily on their shoulders.
In the early fifties and sixties, there used to be " un controlleur" on buses and subway. " Le controlleur" would check
that you bought your bus or metro ticket, and then he would stamp it, or make a little hole in it.
You felt very empowered to have been checked out, and then "le controlleur" would sigh too, and agree with you that indeed
the sky had seldom been so dark.
It used to be a very gentleman way to exchange profound views with a stranger you had little chance of meeting again.
And then the "controlleurs"disappeared. Little machines would puncture your ticket, and monthly subway pass were created.
Some things do not change though. The sky has still this deep lovely shade of grey in winter that makes you so happy
to rush into a little bistro, and dive into a plate of smoking "choucroute" ( sauerkraut ) and "jambonneau" ( slices of warm ham )
all this washed off with one glass or two of bordeaux.
But there are still some gentleman-like things kept in Paris. I have a lovely friend there, Anne, who is perhaps the only
Parisian to relish gleefully dark grey skies, rain and gale. When it gets really foul, she turns to you a rosy face with excited
eyes and she whispers, "Ah c'est sublime, non ?" She does find it sublime.
So she took me on day 4 to the select polo club where several things can be watched for.
Dark grey skies.
Little gentlemen in the making learning fencing,
with some ungentlemanly exclamations,
and in "le manege"
the inside horse ring, a riding teacher delicately picking up horses poop from the immaculate saw dust.
And then on day 5, the sky cleared up and "le ciel gris" was no more.
" Ah oui, mais maintenant il fait beaucoup plus froid."
said the woman who was climbing in the bus ahead of me. " Yes, but now it's much colder."
special envoy to the Terroir-iste.