Tuesday 22 February 2011

City Snapshots: The downpour

The droplets of water snaking down the window remind you of something you heard recently - Paris is a wetter city than London. English rain comes little and often, but in Paris, when it rains, it really rains.

Tonight the skies have opened up and you’re stuck in this bar. The staff are unfriendly, and the beer is warm and expensive, but you’re still better off here than outside with streaks of rain wiring down your neck.

Next to you, someone is saying something about the wife and the children he never sees. Slurred words, uninvited hands on shoulders and foul smelling breath. Misery loves company, but this guy can keep the self-pity he’s trying to wipe off on everyone.

You take a step back to the window and watch the puddles of water gush along the gutters. Through the vapour mist a figure appears, dressed in green with luminous cuffs and collars. With his plastic broom, he’s pushing the city waste deep down into the sewers.

Suddenly you open the door and leap outside. The beads of rain sting your eyes and make you gulp for air, but the road sweeper has shown you something important. City rain washes and cleanses, driving dust and dirt off of the streets. It should be something to embrace, not to take shelter from.

Paris rain never lasts for long. The pavements now sing and shine under the orange streelight glow, and the air smells almost fresh again. The wet drips have reached down to the small of your back, but you now know that everything is going to be fine.


FotoMarg said...

A very enjoyable piece of writing. Very evocative. It's also interesting to hear that Paris has more rain than London and that it's a different kind of rain.

Unknown said...

As long as you're dressed for it, it is such a cleansing... the smell of the air just afterward is one of those quiet joys. And the men in green... ten years or more ago it seemed as if they were sometimes marshaling along giant herds of cigarette butts, the stubborn ones stuck behind tires of parked cars swept out and all to shoot down the waiting sewer opening. So it just struck me, the streets are not so full of those butts as they once were...

Then, I remember the Captain of a freighter, steering his vessel beneath a nearby raincloud to wash off the sands that had accumulated in the Red Sea: nature's ship washer... and city washer.

Kiki said...

magnifique, poétique - and a lovely rain-shot... I took some rain photos from inside my veranda today to send to my Hero Husband abroad - and to show (off) him the already opening camellia blooms.... it WILL come, the long missed spring season.
Apart from this winter season I couldn't say that we have more rain than England, and we usually have rather good weather when others complain... but I am some km outside of Paris, in the green belt - very beautiful and with much cleaner air, so I mustn't complain!
And if ever you should choose to write more and more; you have found yourself a faithful reader here... :)

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