Winter never does settle in in Nantes. Not really. A midnight flurry, maybe, quite possibly, hidden from prying eyes. Wake to white in the morning and by noon it is gone. The days have been quite temperate, an early spring, and as cabin fever sets in we leave the safety and four walls of home and take to the streets.
Settle in, chair faced out, legs stretched, jutting awkwardly forward, and let the street theater begin. That old French tradition of long lazy moments at a sidewalk café beckons as the sun splatters across the pavement, warming our upturned faces. People scurry through town, in front of us, oblivious. People stroll hand in hand, nonchalantly, swallowed up in their own thoughts.
Each day I discover something new of my town. Look up and see art; scribbles on the walls, crazy mosaics glued to the sides of buildings, a game of hide-and-seek. Or the buildings themselves, architecture gone wild, architects let loose. Vibrant colors and odd shapes crisscross in our paths, sculptures in our line of vision, yelling for attention.
And then there are all of these chairs. Who thinks of a chair? Inanimate objects, purely functional. Where to place our seat when desiring….a seat? Colors, shapes, living sculptures. Who notices the benches, the stools, the seats and chairs in rattan, wicker, plastic, metal? Slats, woven, wooden, sturdy, rickety? There they sit, pretty as a picture, blocking my path, inviting me, anyone to stop, sit, relax. And do we really need a reason – a coffee clutched, a book opened, a croque-monsieur lying placidly on a plate – to pull up a chair?
A place for quiet reflection, a good book, a crisp newspaper, a shared meal or a lively discussion. Sit facing each other, eyes locked, leaning in across the table, the world shut out, forgotten. Sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder, watching anyone but your companion, watching the world go by, an unobserved observer.
I am enthralled. I begin to snap all that I see and there are still more waiting patiently to be discovered.