On Saturday last, a forenoon like whirling demons, dark, with slanting rain, full of rage…
Walt Whitman, ‘The Weather – Does it Sympathize with These Times?’ from Specimen Days in America
This morning, the news from Paris. I sat and stared at the words on my screen, trying to make sense of them. I heard my daughter getting up and called to her. We scrolled silently through the BBC reports. When you check the French sites, I asked, will you tell me what they are saying?
And then I said something I shouldn’t have (I was thinking aloud, not talking). ‘If I were young’, I said, ‘I’m not sure I’d want to bring children into the world’. It was not the thing to say to someone with their life ahead of them. ‘I don’t agree’, my daughter countered: ‘That would be an ending, but not the right ending.’ Outside, dark clouds were gathering. ‘I’m sorry’, I told her.
At noon I listened to the radio as I drove to collect Dylan: news, phone-ins, expert opinions. People suggested solutions and talked about the future, but no one mentioned children. The rain was coming down now: driving rain against my driver window. On the northbound carriageway, banks of sudden spray. Our trip might need to be shorter than planned, I thought to myself. In slantwise rain I remembered Whitman’s Specimen Days: the weather was in sympathy with Paris today:
After every great battle, a great storm.
From that point on the day itself seemed sympathy with the times. I decided to battle it out with Dylan about the amount he could bring home. He didn’t like it: ran angrily to my car, waving his hands ‘bye bye, bye bye’. He wouldn’t look at me through the rear view mirror: sat sulky as rain. A ride on a steam train would cheer him, I thought. But when we arrived it was closed. ‘Let’s have a cup of tea’ I said. In the cafe I asked Dylan if I could see his filofax but he wouldn’t let me. I knew about a couple of incidents in the week; was Dylan just brooding, I wondered, or trying to block me? Drawn against the cafe window, curtains of grey rain. Shall we go home Dylan, I said: call it a day?
since this war, and the wide and deep national agitation, strange analogies, different combinations, a different sunlight, or absence of it…
All quotes are from Walt Whitman (1819-1892) ‘The Weather – Does It Sympathize with These Times?’ in Specimen Days in America
I took the photographs of and from the Eiffel Tower while in Paris with my daughter in February 2010.