I'm trying to be very patient and good-natured about all this rain. It's still raining. Cold, horizontal rain. Every day. But I am trying very hard to think about the drought in NC and the southern states; about the farmers who have to end their growing season early because they don't have enough water to irrigate their fields; about all the people whose well have gone dry. I am trying, in short, to look at all this rain as something of a blessing for these people because there's no doubt that a lot of really fine-looking veggies and high-quality wines come from this region because of all the rain. Nonetheless, I would like to see the sunshine for a day or two.
In other news, I've made a small but endearing discovery that probably won't interest you but that I found to be particularly charming. I will preface this by saying that I am a sucker for aesthetics. Well, one of the first things you notice when you go to a supermarket in France is that the yogurt aisle is probably the most well-stocked aisle (and often there are two yogurt aisles). There's every flavor you can think of, some interesting, some a little bizarre, and of course there are all the traditional flavors. But there are some really fine specimens of yogurt here--yogurt that's more like a dessert than yogurt. Imagine Greek-style yogurt. And a lot of the higher-quality yogurts are packaged in tiny glass, or even terra-cotta, containers. I fell in love immediately. Don't ask me why this matters. Of course, glass is easier to recycle and more environmentally sound, and you can also save the containers and use them for juice glasses. But apart from that, they're just so darn cute.
Another observation: as you know, most of the buildings in Europe, apart from the newer skyscrapers (and there is not a single skyscraper in Angers), are very old. Often, they are hundreds of years old. They are well-built, but they also tend to be very outdated. By this, I mean the interiors are not at all like what Americans decorate their homes to look like. They aren't matchy-matchy here, and you get the feeling that most people don't replace or add things to their homes unless it is absolutely a necessity. So the interiors look a little shabby. I actually like this. It shows something of a frugality and a common sense approach to décor. Not that I haven't seen American interiors that I like, but you know what I mean.
People here are also very, very vigilant about turning off lights, conserving water, and turning off the heat when they leave the house. Most people here (even in newer buildings) have radiator heat. Even the newest bulding at the university, the library (which is absolutely beautiful, by the way), has radiators. They're smaller and sleeker and more modern-looking, but they're very different from the central heating that most Americans have. They're nice because you can lean up against them or put your hands on them and be instantly warmed up. But then, they aren't nearly as effective as central heating, so I've been wearing sweaters and layers in the house. Not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly different.