Church bells are ringing and I like the sound. It's Sunday, but they ring on other days too, yesterday afternoon, perhaps for a wedding, and for no reason I know, every day around six. They are ringing in the newly restored north tower of the church.
I arrived on Wednesday, did the usual things one does so as not to fall asleep, early afternoon, which is the middle of the night in the place you left: grocery shopping, dusting, getting some sun in the park with the Le Monde and a pastry from a local shop. At six o'clock I was beginning to think maybe I could go to bed. At seven I was in bed. I picked up the book I had left unfinished, La Montagne de l'Âme (Soul Mountain) by Gao Xingjian. There was a bookmark, of course, where I left off reading in December. It's the sort of book you can pick up anywhere, anyway, and it still makes sense, not that it's really episodic in structure, but each chapter (alternating first and second person narrative) has its own pleasures. I read for a while. It was growing darker, I noticed a sound I don't hear in California: merles (blackbirds?) settling for the night. But where, in this city of stone, do merles settle for the night, I wondered. All I ever see is pigeons. The park was a little too far away for the sound to come from there.
Then I remembered that in the courtyards, out of sight of the street, are marvelous hidden gardens, with trees one would never suspect from the streets, unless a porte-cochere was left open, and blackbirds with their spring songs.