Thursday, June 28, 2007

There’s a little coffee house on the Ile de St. Louis. If I am ever in Paris, I make a pilgrimage. The shop is made tinier by the clutter of hats, puppets and incongruously woven baskets. Lots of woven baskets. The walls are covered in masks and homemade art. Any other space is taken by chocolate moulds and books on astronomy. There is only enough room for a half dozen little round tables but, for each table, there is a big buttocked old lady in the kitchen. They chatter and cackle unseen, which are two of my favourite sounds. They are in back mixing and banging pots and pans. Occasionally one appears to serve coffee or cakes or hot chocolate. Hot chocolate served on a tin tray from a pot into a Japanese tea cup beside a small decanter and shot glass of water. It’s a hot chocolate that confirms that there is right and good in the world. It is as thick and pure joy. Dark chocolate sweetened with honey, Amen. A steady stream of visitors present relatives to the proprietor. She receives them like a queen.

As a nomad, there is no one place that is home to me. Instead there are locations or certain situations with certain people that give that same homey comfort that the more stationary pine for when away. Charlotte de L’isle is one of those places.

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