Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not Your Father's Winter

See that?  That is not what this winter is like in Paris.  Of course not.  We left.

In fact the winter of 2011-2012 is the mildest in many years and on its way to beating all records.  The temperature has not reached freezing at all; even in the unusually warm winter of 2006-2007 the temperatures fell to -1º/-3ºC.  Weather this mild has not been recorded since the early 1970s.

Luckily we're quite happy here in the equally oddly warm Bay Area, where I've been swanning around in a T-shirt and cardigan.  I'd be royally p.o.'d if we had left a warm Parisian winter for a cold and dreary Berkeley sojourn.  Instead we're hanging out with equally lightly dressed friends and sitting outside enjoying global warming.

Here's where I'm sitting right now:

Well, no, I had to get up to take the picture, but you get the idea.  Sun and warmth and greenery outside the window.  Mmmm...

During these Berkeley sojourns we've always tried to take French lessons.  It's hard to really learn a language without being immersed in it.  When we're in Paris it's all around and speaking in English to each other, while not ideal, is not as bad as it is here, where all the world is speaking English and we have to go out of our way to listen to French TV or radio to work on comprehension.

So Gene and I have been trying, rather awkwardly, to speak French to each other recently.  Since speaking in French to anyone requires more concentrated effort than speaking English, you can imagine what stilted and repetitive conversations we're having when speaking to each other:  "Quoi?  Comment?  Qu'est-ce que tu m'as dis?"  There's a lot of repeating.

Our regular Berkeley French teacher has had serious health problems and is not available, so we've both signed up with the local Alliance Francaise for weekly French lessons and we're looking forward to a bit more fluency with each other.   We'll see how it goes, or as we should be saying to each other, on verra comment ça va aller.

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