The Soup Kitchen

Back in Paris after a month in the country—beautiful weather, almond trees in bloom, scented, and covered with bees, humming with bees.

Not sure whether I’m happy to be back in the city. I liked our small country routine: work, biking or walking, running the odd errand to surrounding villages for food, or up to the village store. We bought me a new, much lighter bike, and explored longer roads than I was able to on my heavy, clunky ordinary bike. I experienced excercisers’ euphoria, loved climbing hills, stopping in a town for a pain au chocolat…like it best when the reward is a downhill glide at the end, which is hard when your village is perched on the top of a hill.

One of the things I missed was the soup kitchen gang: cooks, volunteers, eaters: 35 per serving, so usually about 150 a day, a majority of them, at the moment, eastern Europeans, Polish, Rumanian, the odd Russian, plus occasional others. Very few women and mostly they keep their heads down, though there are exceptions. Afterwards the volunteers eat while the cooks chat and clean up the kitchen. It’s a lovely place to volunteer, where the occasional fight breaks out, but not often, and a lot of laughing goes on. I’ve been in twice this week, replacing regulars and will be in again the week after next (next week I’m going to Edinburgh for a few days, for a reading at the Scottish Poetry Library).