First Snow

I’ve been plotting a post for days. Numerous posts, in fact. I have wanted to update on my journey to Versailles and my outing with the very kind, interesting, and erudite Peter of Peter’s Paris, not to mention the various tidbits I have come across on the ‘net which have intrigued me, made me laugh, or made me think. I’ve wanted to share all of these things, and then Mother Nature comes along and trumps ALL of the post ideas, and gives me this:

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

Our First Snow

I was in bed still at about 8:10 in the morning. PJ had just left for work, I was re-reading Sarah Turnbull’s book about being an Australian expatriate in Paris, Almost French,  I catch a glimpse out of the bedroom window and see white, fluffy flakes falling from the sky!

The above photo was taken at 8:13 am. (Remember, the sun is rising after 8:30 am these days.)

I have a neat little progression of photos with the garlic bulb I put in our planter on a whim to show you the snow:

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

8:13 am (before sunrise — the street lamp is making things seem lighter)

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

8:44 am (shortly after sunrise)

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

10:03 am (sun is technically up, but snow clouds fill the sky)

The garlic sprout is getting buried!

This snow has brought out the child in me, and while this is the perfect opportunity to sit indoors and blog today ( snow day!), at almost 10:40 am, part of me wants to go take a quick shower, hop into some warm clothing, and see if I can capture some wonderful photos of the snow in Paris (playing in the snow!). I’m contemplating (not very seriously, but it has crossed my mind) going to the Trocadéro, the plaza to the west of the Eiffel Tower, to see if I can get some good photos of the towering lady in the snow.

In the meantime, you can catch her live here at this link: Paris-Live

This is a screen shot of the snowy tower at about 10:45 am:

The Eiffel Tower in the Snow

The Eiffel Tower in the Snow


*a few more websites have been read*

But instead, here I sit at 11:08 am, still typing after being on various websites where I am not even sure how I clicked to them, but I have been reading them just as compulsively as I used to read the cereal boxes on the breakfast table when I was a kid.

Just now I was visiting a young woman’s site whose screen name is “Demily” and who blogs at Pop Sugar: Parisiem. I have not put the story together, but she had been living in Paris up until October and now her byline reads, “the dream deferred: an american prematurely ejected from paris.”  I was linking from blog post to blog post to see if I can find out what in the heck happened to her, but I cannot. Her most recent post rants (intelligently but with a little snark) about her attempts to get health insurance back in the U.S. It’s eye-opening in the way she highlights the differences between the U.S healthcare system and the French one.

I linked to her (it was in the blogroll) from this blog here: Lost in Cheeseland by blogger Lindsey, a young professional living in Paris with her husband and cat. I read a few posts there, and then, in her post from December 14, Find of the Week: H.A.N.D. Lindsey links to a blogger named “Anne” who posts at Prêt à  Voyager. So I stopped there for a read, too.

There are just SO MANY bloggers who write from Paris, I find new ones to read every day I am online, it seems.

I have been trying to look up information online to try to discover the number of expatriates living in Paris, and cannot hunt down an exact number, but this article at Wikipedia was enlightening: Demographics of Paris. It says the following:

Finally, it should be remembered that the figures given here are for people permanently living in the metropolitan area of Paris. However, Paris is the most visited city in the world, with a massive influx of tourists at any time in the year (over 75 million a year, which is more than the whole population of France). Most of these visitors are foreigners, so that on any day of the year the actual foreign population being present in the metropolitan area of Paris is probably higher than the 19.4% figure given above. This fact is most felt in the center of the city of Paris, where it is possible to walk in some streets where most people encountered are tourists.

Seventy-five million visitors a year! Divided by 12, that is 6,250,000 visitors a month. I can tell you now that there are not as many visitors in this season, the “low season,” which is from about November to March. This means that the numbers of visitors are stacked in the “high season” months from April to October. Still, what this also means is that I am just one of probably several (hundred?) thousand Americans in Paris at any given moment. The population of the inner ring of Paris is just over 2 million (and, remember, that is 2 million people in 33.5 square miles, or 86.7 square kilometers. Source: Paris Walking Tours – Paris Facts). It is likely that there are more tourists inside of Paris than there are residents quite frequently throughout the year.


Some more searching later, I think I have some stats. I went to the Huffington Post and read a 2008 election-time article by Beth Arnold. She cites the website Transitions Abroad, where it is posted that there are about 6.6 million Americans abroad. I went to the Transitions Abroad website to see if there were any more specifics about France, Paris in particular.


**Sigh** No dice. It is pretty impossible for me to narrow the search terms enough to yield any information about how many foreigners, especially Americans, actually live in the City of Lights.


12:51 pm

I have spent the last couple of hours on the web, researching and reading, wanting to see about how many of “us” there are in this city. I keep bumping into blog after blog about others who live here, too, and we all seem to have somewhat of a similar take: the fish-out-of-water stories, the day-to-day, perhaps with a slant (photos of the city, food and places to eat, information on things to see and do). It’s all rehashed stuff. The individual and unique voices of each blog give some individuality, but it does seem that there are thousands of us out there in the blogosphere, essentially writing about the same or similar things.

Where is the individuality, then — in ANY blog for that matter?

I keep having these kinds of questions as I think about the meta-level of blogging. Blame grad school. Argh. Let me get off this track of what all too often winds up being a kind of mental masturbation and give you some more photos of the snow, eh?

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr
8:44 am

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr
8:44 am

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

10:03 am

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr
10:03 am

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

I played with the color a teensy, tiny bit in Picasa on this one with a graduated tint in a very pale blue. The flakes were that big and fluffy, though! It looks better in Flickr at a larger size.

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

11:51 am, outside the kitchen window.

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

11:51 am, snow on the street lamp.

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

11:52 am, someone bundled up, and pigeons (flying rats?) feeding on crumbs.

I took a series of photos of what I think might have been an African family experiencing their first snow. The couple was snapping photos of their two little kids. You should have heard their shouts and laughter! It was charming. 🙂

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

(Yes, the dad is carrying a Leader Price shopping bag! ;-))

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

The kids seemed so excited!

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

It’s possible they are twin girls. They were about the same size as one another. For certain they are close in age, though.

First Snow December 2009 - 19th arr

I am imagining them sending the photos to family and friends somewhere in western Africa, and those family and friends oooohing and ahhhhhing over the snow. One of PJs co-workers from Australia was saying something similar to me once — that coming to Paris was where she had her first real experience of snow. Snow, while cold and often miserable, does bring a kind of magic with it, don’t you think? Especially that first snow.

While we may be on the same latitude as Newfoundland in Canada, the Gulf Stream keeps things very temperate in Paris. This will probably be one of at the most three snows this winter. The climate actually reminds me a lot of Tulsa, Oklahoma, minus the tornadoes. It’s similar in temperature and humidity for most of the seasons of the year.

It’s about 1:20 pm now. Some older children are returning to school after their lunch hour. They are making snowballs, reluctantly going back to school.

I’m still having dreams of putting together my post on Versailles this afternoon. It’s probably not going to happen, I know, but I am writing it in my head even as I am working on this post. I think at the very least I will try to upload the photos to Flickr and maybe annotate them there (but I am super bad about this, as you may have realized after making  promises here to annotate some other sets, but which I did not. It takes a lot of time to do it, and a lot of research also. PJ likes to use the computer, too, and so I try to limit when I am online to the daylight hours, which are shrinking here as we approach the Winter Soltice in four days! Then he takes the evening and night shift to do his writing work).

So, I think I will quit here. Enough ParisKarin stream-of-consciousness blogging for one day, methinks. I’m still surprised there are people out there who like to read this, lol. It tickles me, and I am glad you do, but I catch myself rolling my *own* eyes at what I write half the time, you know? 😀

Be well. Good luck getting all your holiday tasks complete, and I will see you here again soon, with or without a Versailles post in hand.

Over and out.


(an alien parisienne)

Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Life in Paris, Paris Blogging, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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14 thoughts on “First Snow

  1. Ken

    As you read this comment, you are a blogger reading about a blogger reading about a blogger reading other bloggers.
    Nothing new under the sun, I watched Countdown last night, Keith was off, but they had an interview with Dr Dean. Tonight keith had a “special responce” based on that interview and voiced what went through my head as I had heard the interview almost verbatum and had I posted it, I would have been only one of about a thousand others. I listen to keith (and Rachel and read Huffington) because, even though what is being said is what is said a million other places, they have a unique voice that entertains me. It is not the story, but the spin.
    Coming from Colorado, you must be prety jaded about snow.

    • pariskarin

      Ohhh, there’s speedy Ken with a comment so soon! 🙂

      Yeahhhhhhh, like I wrote, meta-blogging, lol. Apparently, I think it is the shizz. I guess you do, too. 😀

      Not the story, but the spin. I like that. I suppose it is the concept of “voice” that distinguishes one blog from another, doesn’t it. Or one of the things. I could spend a lot more time analyzing this all, like I wrote up there, but Peej just walked in the door, too, so I won’t right now. Stay tuned.

      I don’t think I could ever be jaded about a first snow! Even if I don’t like to move around in it! 🙂 It’s pretty no matter where it happens.

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading your post and I am sure many others will too. FYI, early in the twentieth century a number of grading scales were proposed by which teachers rated student writing. Subsequently, many teachers only deemed it critical to assign a letter grade to those papers, a grade scrawled out in ill-omened red ink. The grade did not explain what the teacher thought of the content, the technicians, the style, or even the organization of the paper. The scholar was left to understand the reasoning behind the grade on his / her very own, expecting to discover an answer when the subsequent paper was due. However , by the 1950’s the fashion in which teachers approached papers began to change. Teachers noticed that letter grades alone weren’t aiding students in sharpening their writing abilities. Feedback will do you good and in the long term benefit the readers of your blog.

    • pariskarin

      Hello, Scottish Bricklayers!

      I checked out your website and was really impressed with your work in construction. I have actually spent time in your neck of the woods/Highlands. The people (a few -four?- generations ago) on my father’s father’s side are from Applecross,in the Western Highlands. I visited some of the “cousins” from this side of the family in 1984, when I was a teen. I took a train from Chester, England, where I was attending school for a semester, up to Inverness. The family lived somewhere between Inverness and Ft. William, but I have forgotten exactly where. I saw my first (and so far only) Christmas pantomime while staying with them for a long weekend (that was interesting, hahaha!). My mother’s grandfather is from Orkney (first Stenness and then Stromness) and my mother’s grandmother’s parents were from there, too. Genetically-speaking, I have a lot of Highland in me. 🙂 So glad you found the page!

      It’s very true, what you write. I have an MA in Education, and have on and off been a teacher for almost 20 years. Long ago, students were left to flounder, not knowing why or how to even improve their writing from the simple marks.

      The latest (for more than a decade) in teaching writing to schoolchildren in the States is “6 trait writing.” children are evaluated on a rubric with descriptors in six categories: ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, and conventions (spelling, punctuation, etc.). The rubric clearly defines what kind of writing ought to be present in a paper that is excellent/above average, one that is on-target or average, and on one that needs work. I loved using these rubrics with students. They were helpful to give them constructive feedback about how to be better writers.

      You remind me that I can apply this kind of criteria to my own writing. I tend to go about things much more intuitively, which is not all bad, but it is true that to really practice the craft of writing, I can look at all of the areas that constitute writing, not just “voice.” It’s definitely an ongoing thing I think about when doing this kind of meta-analysis of blogging and what makes up a “good blog.” (See? What did I tell you? Grad school kind of did this to me, lol.) But you are right: feedback by readers is a very positive thing that helps inform if the writing is doing its job — communicating! 🙂

      I really appreciate your coming by and thank you so much for commenting!

  3. Pocketful of Shells

    Oh, this smacks of karinbrain so hard I wanna hug you.

    Was it the same sort of snow, where it’s not really that cold? That would be awesome.

    • pariskarin

      Loving “karinbrain” sweetie!! Yes, it is karinbrain all over the place, huh, lol. I wanna hug you, too. 🙂

      It was a beautiful snow. It was fairly cold out, at least when I was poking my head out to take photos, lol, but not bitter cold, just a regular cold (lol). Cold enough to stick, though. It is also snowing more today!

      Snow Day in Paris - Part Deux

      Snow Day in Paris - Part Deux

      I saw some really pretty photos on Flickr of shots people got in the city yesterday. I think I will try to head out today, after commenting back here.

  4. Carole

    Always a joy to see children playing in the snow. Didn’t you want to join them? The view outside your kitchen window is lovely. Stay warm!

    • pariskarin

      Hi Carole!

      I kind of did want to join them, in my *imagination*!! LOL. I used to be a whole heckuva lot more immune to the cold than I am now, for sure. Having written that, since it is still snowing today, I think I need to venture out and try to get some photographs of Paris in the snow. Not sure where I will go, yet, but I think I should go OUT!! 🙂 I will stick photos somewhere (here or Flickr) eventually, lol.

      Have a great weekend!

  5. Lauri

    Hi Karin – Beautiful photos, as always! Enjoy your weekend.

  6. Janet

    Hey sweetie — loved your photos (which I saw yesterday while we spoke), but had to come back to read the text. I agree — I feel like I’ve been rapping with Karinbrain there — the inside of your head, no holds barred or something. I had to stop in to read before I fled the country tomorrow, so stay warm and I’ll talk to you soon, and in the meantime, will be checking on your blog (so blog, dammit!) — *mwah*.

    • pariskarin

      I am starting to feel like Being John Malkovich, lol. I am so glad you had a chance to come and read, and I am glad to know you will be checking in!! I am uploading Versailles photos as I type, so yes, I hope to blog about that, for sure. Safe travels for you and yours, my friend, and talk to you soon. *mwah*

  7. Karrie

    I agree with Ken, it’s the spin that makes the difference. Voice is what will draw readers. Point of View is everything.

    • pariskarin

      Hi Karrie!

      Thank you for the input. It’s funny, as a teacher and avid reader, this is stuff I feel like I should *know* already. But when the tables are turned and I am on the other side of the fence (clichés, ugh, LOL!!) as a writer, I seem to have lost bearing as to remembering that it is *always* point of view that makes the difference between every blog and so on. I know I have a unique view, and I just need to stay true to it. I appreciate the words saying as much! 🙂 Be well!

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