Around 10:30 the other morning the road stretching from my house to the bakery looked like a runway at Charles de Gaul airport. But instead of planes taxiing, there were people on the move. One by one the neighbors were walking out their garden gates and heading to the bakery for their daily bread. They seemed to have exited at 2 or 3 minute intervals and were spaced out evenly all the way down to the corner. As I stepped out to join the parade I could just see Francoise catch up with Jackie, their heads tilted together as they dropped into conversation. Then these two were stopped by Annie coming from the other direction and then one by one the rest of the line up caught up as well. Now there was a lively neighborhood gathering. Hello kisses all around, complaints about the weather and exhilaration about this rare moment of sun and warmth.
If the sun is shinning everyone is out making the most of it. It’s time to leave the car in the garage, fling the household windows open and hang out with a good view to watch the world pass by. We are all finding extra moments to soak up some warmth, both the sunshine and companionship. It may take a little longer running errands on foot or we may give up watching our favorite evening program in exchange for that magical time called summer. It has been elusive this year.
On the other side of the river the neighbors watch for Madame Catherine to take her seat on the bench in the park. The neighborhood has been waiting for this moment of evening repose and soon the bench is full, the younger folks stand close by, everyone joining in the evening’s conversations. Just a half hour or so of small talk, but contact with others.
Up the street at the cafe another group forms. The tables fill up with the younger generation and passing tourist out for a bit of social warmth. This group might get a little rowdy and will definitely stay out later into the cool of the evening.
If you are out for a stroll and listen carefully you can hear the lilt of voices and sparkle of laughter coming from terraces around the village. Out in the countryside evening, folks sit in their front yards. As you stroll by, there’s a good chance you will be invited to stop in for a end-of-the-day glass or two.
Even as the sun begins to set the groups linger as the glow and warmth of companionship soaks deep into the soul.