New Englanders are nothing if not hardy in the snow. There are seemingly born with an instinctive sense of how to dress for it, commute in it and — above all — shovel it. Most get a secretive thrill out of the act of shoveling snowy sidewalks (I know my husband did), scraping ice-covered windshields and sprinkling salt over the pavement.
Despite living in the Boston area for eight years, I’m no New Englander. I never quite adjusted to the harsh reality of winter: seeing mountains of snow piled atop my car, wrangling squirmy toddlers in and out of snowsuits, wearing clothing that always seemed better suited to a warming hut on a ski slope than life in a busy city. Alas, I could never shake my inner Californian.
Which brings to Paris and more specifically, to Parisians, in the snow. In case you haven’t heard, we’ve seen quite a lot of snow here in the last few days. And from what I can tell, Parisians bear a stronger resemblance to Californians than to Bostonians when it comes to managing it. It began on Friday like a winter dream: a veil of white descending upon the city, making it glow in a shimmery softness. We enjoyed a morning of snowballs fights and built a mini bonhomme de neige before our feet froze and we heard the siren song of a mug of chocolate chaud.
That was the weekend. Today, Monday, was a different story, as Parisians trudged grumpily through what New Englanders know as a “wintry mix” of snow, rain and ice that clogged gutters and piled in slushy mounds along every sidewalk. No one shovels here, you see. No one owns snow shovels (and they probably wouldn’t do it anyway). So the scene on the streets was one of ill-outfitted Parisians (I spotted more than one woman teetering on stiletto bottines) trying to navigate the unfamiliar terrain and grumbling all the way.
Nonetheless, the city looks pretty magical. If the forecast proves correct (always a serious if in Paris, we’re likely to see more of the white stuff as the week continues.) As for me, I’ll be busting out my inner Bostonian, feeling oddly at ease as snow blankets the City of Light.