Paris is especially beautiful in early Autumn. Today was a fine example; one of those near perfect crackly mornings when the sun has undergone some magical alchemic transformation from burnished gold to platinum and is bright enough, but not quite warm enough, for sunglasses...so of course I'd forgotten mine. The city's poor trees forced out of parks and sidelined to stand permanent guard over busy boulevards and rues are still green but their leaves have tell-tale signs of tarnish which means they will soon copper and fall. Window boxes are full to bursting with flowers that no longer smell and have arrived at the point of no return; the metallic air has turned the sounds of the city into tinny chimes signaling the imminent arrival of winter.
It's an uneasy time for wardrobe choices. A summer jacket or cardigan is fine when racing along dragging a child who is late for school but stop at traffic lights and an unexpected whip of air, hanging around looking for the underdressed, will chill you to the bone. This morning I dug out a crumpled wool coat from the back of the wardrobe for the aller-retour to school. It was like running a marathon in a ski suit, even at red lights. Back home was chillier inside than out because the Frenchman had opened several windows before leaving for work on the principle that rooms need to be "aired". I put the coat back on.
Actually it wasn't an aller-retour this morning as I diverted my return via the gym to check out how much it would cost to join. I used to be a member - and I used to go - before I had La Fille and promised myself I'd join again after she was born. Then when she went to the creche. Then after we found a lovely babysitter. Then when she went to school. That's a lot of unkept promises and extra kilos, so I promised myself I would join today. I didn't because it seemed an awful lot of money and I told myself I needed to work if and when I would find time to go before forking out that much.
Autumnal Paris is beautiful but spoiled by the niggling inevitability of winter. From now it will get gloomier and nippier by the day and the mornings will turn from crisp to brittle and the trees from burnished to bare and the chill to a breathtaking, numbing cold. And it will be me, not the Frenchman, taking La Fille to school at the gloomiest, nippiest, brittlest, most freezing brass-monkey time of the day. And I will not be able to warm myself up with a quick 60 minutes of Body Combat because although I really, really love pretending to punch and kick and knee-groin some poor unsuspecting imaginary person, I'll still be dithering about joining the gym. And the Frenchman will still be leaving the windows open even after the central heating has been sparked up and even after I have asked him one hundred million times not to. On second thoughts maybe the extra layer on my thighs might save me from hypothermia and I could practice the Body Combat at home and save the money.