When we first moved here, I wasn’t exactly used to winters. I’d done five years in Montreal, so they weren’t completely foreign, but I’m a third generation Californian and five years is not going to change what’ bred in the bone. We arrived on February 1, right in the thick of one of the colder winters on record. It wasn’t ideal.
I was distracted with all the details of moving in, so it hardly registered. What got me down was the early sunset with the dramatically shorter days in which to get things done. The lack of light was depressing, despite my overwhelming joy at being in Paris.
One day was particularly bad. My husband du jour was off on a business trip and the chauvinist principal of my daughter’s school was insisting she be held back a year before she’d ever set foot in a class room. And, oh, yeah, I had pneumonia. Leaving the neighborhood public school after our third discussion on the subject, I was absolutely furious with this fat, balding man who looked like Santa’s Mini Me with a rat’s tail up ‘do. I stormed across the street, talking to myself as I tripped over a pile of snow at the curb.
Even angrier now, I looked up and there he sat. A cheerful man, beaming up at me from his wheelchair, a basket of fresh violet flowers on his lap.
He held up his basket, “2€ a bouquet. Would you like one?”
My anger melted away, I smiled as I stuck my nose into the delicately fragrant bunches.
— Ah, oui….
It was exactly what I needed at the moment I needed it. Not only did I feel better about my day, but those flowers were a promise of spring and the light to come. I bought him out, filling our home with the fragile flowers, refusing to throw them out long after they’d faded.
Every year, I’d wait expectantly for the man and every year I’d buy a handful of violets, until one year, he was gone. But the violets still pop up and every year I am thrilled to see them as they remind me that soon the daffodils will be blooming, then tulips and soon it will be spring.
This winter has been particularly grim, the greyest in 50 years according to local weather reports, and March roared in before I’d seen a single bouquet, so I was particularly thrilled to spot them at our local florist this weekend. The sun’s gonna shine!
ps… My daughter did not get held back and earned top honors imstead.