Pain au chocolat, Paris, and Raphael clouds

June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today was one of those days to stay home and do the things you want to do.

For me, this meant browsing fabric on Etsy, thinking up article ideas, cleaning, doing laundry, and trying to make pain au chocolat.

Bread and chocolate. (Also the name of a very nice little bakery in downtown St. Paul.)

These are good things on their own. Chocolate wrapped in a croissant pastry? Oh, yes.

I had my first pain au chocolat while waiting in a train station in Paris to meet the girl I would be couchsurfing with before heading back to the States. I had been volunteering on organic farms throughout France. Now it was time to see this famed and magical city.

Sandie was my host, the girl coming to meet me. We only knew each other through the couchsurfing website’s profile pages, a few email exchanges, and a short phone conversation. So I had an idea of what she looked like, but not much of one, and I didn’t have my cell phone in Europe, of course. My train had been in for a few minutes and she wasn’t here yet.

I stood on a corner away from where the trains pulled in. And felt hungry. And there was the little bakery.

How good it felt to order the pastry, quite perfectly in French! Munching on that late breakfast helped me to feel less anxious as I peered around and hoped I was in the right place, that nothing strange had happened, that I would in fact have a couch to sleep on that night.

And so I did. Sandie came along with her dark curls and a ribbon in her hair and a big smile. We hopped on the metro back to her apartment – only a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower. I was so happy to find a friend my age who spoke English as well as I did!

So the sweet and hospitable Sandie introduced me to her Paris pals and took me all around the city. To the museums, along the Seine, to the famous sites and little bistros. We went to a Palm Sunday service and met her neighbor on the Pont des Arts and watched the moon rise. We talked about dreams, Europe, art, family, God and humankind.

How fun it is to make a new friend in a new country! And to experience the place together.

(Sandie also gets credit for this shot of the Eiffel Tower. I just love it. Someday I’ll frame it.)

So pain au chocolat is Paris, and all those things, to me. I want to take the people I love there so they can see it. Especially the way the Eiffel Tower twinkles after dark, at the turn of the hour. How had I never known that?

At least I can make myself some pain au chocolat right here. And watch from my patio as the clouds turn the sky into art.

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