If there was a time of day that belonged solely to Winter - and winter alone - it would be right after sunrise, those moments that some bright spark decreed 'dawn', when everything is quiet and still, and light and clear, and no matter where you are you feel like you own the whole world. Summer lays claim to that blazing, hazy middle of the day, Spring would be a balmy evening of thickening air and the promise of heat, autumn can only ever be those hours in the afternoon just before the sun sets and the leaves start to drift slowly from the trees. Winter, however, winter is this. Those precious few minutes of turkish delight skies and marshmallow clouds. So fleeting but so slow, a poetic motion that crosses the horizon with the grace of a ballet dancer and then disappears from view, leaving only grey and white behind it. That is what people mostly remember about winter. Dampness, whiteness, grey-tinged photo snaps of girls with scarves pulled tight around their necks. But in reality the heart of winter will always be the dawn.
We got into Paris in the morning. Proper morning, a farmer's morning, not the kind of morning where you amble down the road to get brunch at 11 am, but the kind of morning where the sun hasn't even risen yet and you struggle to find somewhere to get coffee that's not Les Macdos. Bleary-eyed but excited we stumbled off the Eurostar and into a cab, speeding alongside the Seine and watching Paris slowly wake up. Lights came on in the apartments in a perfectly-timed wave that started on the top floor, commuters shrugging on coats and scarves hopped onto vélos and sped off into the day, BCBG femmes slowly walked the sidewalks, being led from the perfectly-manicured hands by dogs so chic they could only live in Paris. When we got out of our cab at our new address for the week - an apartment nestled on the corner of an old building in the 16th, the kind of place you have dreams about when you plan to pack it all up and move, high ceilings, wooden floors, and a working shower - that morning light made everything so fresh. A fresh start in a fresh city even if only for one week! Even the Dominos pizza (even here, even here) looked fresh. In a matter of hours - of minutes, even - we would be running around our neighbourhood, finding the cheese shop where we would get a tranche of hand-churned butter with flecks of real sea salt, the boulangerie where we would buy a stick of baguette still so warm and so new that it left flour marks all over our hands, the patisserie that would become our second home as we flocked their daily for their specials, a religeuse here, a croissant there. And then we would reconvene back at our apartment for our first breakfast, spent alternating feverishly between our dog-eared map and our plates of food, planning everything that we would see and do and eat and enjoy.
We hadn't yet done anything. We hadn't done anything at all. We would - we would spend an afternoon holed up in the warm surrounds of the Laduree tea room, hiding from a brisk winter chill, we would spend an evening laughing with new friends in a bistro in the 7th, forgetting the time and almost missing the last metro home, we would spend a day in Versailles, a morning at Saint Schapelle, an afternoon in the catacombs, an evening at the top of the Arc de Triomphe. We hadn't done any of those things but that morning bathed in fresh light we knew that we would. Some people say that a week in Paris isn't enough but that's not true. A day in Paris is enough. Because there is always the promise of more. That's what dawn really means. The day hasn't even begun yet. And yet, and yet! How beautiful it all looks from there.