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A Chance Encounter with the Countess

Watery rays of sunlight seep around quiet street corners.

Metal shutters clank up – only the odd boulangerie and tabac here and there – in polyphonic dissonance with the Christmas Day bells of Saint Sulpice.

The Luxembourg Garden gates are open.

Coat racks stand empty next to vacant pétanque terrains. They’ll fill up later in the day.

Gravel crunches under joggers’ feet, an inevitable response to Christmas excess. Americans perhaps?

A single basket-baller shoots lonely hoops, waiting to see who’ll turn up for a game of pick-up.

The lake is free of sailboats. But hopeful ducks approach a toddler and his bread-filled pockets.

And around a corner, the Countess de Ségur maintains her benevolent watch, waiting for empty playgrounds to fill.

The children will come, as they ever have, perhaps even clutching a freshly unwrapped copy of her timeless books.

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