When I said goodbye to Shelly, I got back on the train for a long trip to Paris. I have an aunt and uncle who are spending a few years living there, and my parents flew in to visit a few days after I arrived. On the train, I befriended the frazzled Mexican couple next to me by helping them communicate with the train conductor. Then I explained how I had been biking around, eating oatmeal and sleeping in ditches, and I was about to meet up with my family. The man nodded sagely. “When you get off this train,” he said, “your life will change immediately.”
That it did. There were restaurants involved. Hotels. Guided tours. Castles. And, you know, I got to see my parents for the first time in nine months.
In Paris, we perused the markets.
We helped my dad succeed in what I thought was one of his most futile missions: he had read somewhere on the world wide web that there were beehives at the Luxembourg Gardens, but the Parisians and local scholars we talked to all denied it. They’re not on any signs or maps, but the bees are there and we found them.
We took a tour of the King’s Kitchen Garden at Versailles. In 1678, Louis XIV’s head gardener, La Quintinye, began working these nine hectares to supply year-round produce to the royal kitchen. He tried out new varieties and new-to-France vegetables, and pioneered season-extension techniques. Today, the garden showcases some of these historical varieties and techniques, and also serves as an experimental playground for the students of the school of horticulture next door.
Does this raspberry bush look angry that it’s being forced to grow in an unnatural shape for the aesthetic pleasure of aristocrats, or am I projecting?