It’s never easy to come home from vacation. You’ve got to readjust, unpack, collect accumulated mail, and settle into your old routine.
This time, our homecoming coincided with a visit from a friend now living across the country. She is staying with another friend, and last time we gathered for a casual supper at that friend’s house. Joining us were one husband and sister.
Sloppy Joes, cole slaw, potato chips and fruit and three different types of wine: Wonderful! It was accompanied by conversation, both light and substantive. We sat around the table for hours.
Weekends and vacations allow us to combine meals with long conversations. It my life anyway, it is often hard to find time to do this on weekdays.
In Paris, for two lovely weeks, my husband and I enjoyed leisurely lunches and dinners. Most of our meals were eaten at a small table in front of a window overlooking a busy street.
Since we were on the first floor (the second floor to Americans), we had an excellent view of traffic from eight restaurants, two bakeries, two delis, five shops and one large office building.
There were also several schools nearby and it was the time of year for field trips.
The passing parade provided plenty of fodder for conversation. By our third day in Paris, we started to recognize people. There goes the dapper man with a grey ponytail! Oh, look, it’s that cute little girl and her mother! Ooh, that guy drives a Land Rover!
We saw mothers and fathers walk their children to school, and watched business people ride bicycles or motorcycles to work.
We shamelessly peered across the street into office windows. One woman worked long into the night – did she have a deadline? Two men who shared an office seemed to enjoy working together – were they computer geeks as we suspected?
Our speculation and conversation were accompanied by salads and sandwiches, the latter often purchased for three euros from a nearby bakery and “doctored up” with lettuce, tomatoes, olives and cheese.
We sipped wine purchased from area shops, none of it costing more than six euros a bottle and much of it from Provence.
We savored these meals, enjoying a cool breeze on a sunny day and a myriad of street sounds. Though we logged dozens on miles on foot and took more than 50 bus rides, these meal times stand out for me.
For two weeks the people we watched were our friends and neighbors and we were their guests.
We found them hospitable indeed.