Saturday, July 26, 2003

Today, on a 95-degree day when I could barely run a mile, it was so hot that I was thinking of much cooler days. Almost every winter Sunday when I was living in Milan, I would dress warmly and go to the Piazza del Duomo and sit by the fountain with my sketchbook and draw everything I saw, the people, the dogs, the architecture. I'd buy roasted chestnuts from the street vendors and stay there all day till the sun went down, which was earlier than at home. Winters in Milan were never intolerably cold; each winter there would always be exactly one half-inch overnight snowfall around Christmas that would disappear the next morning, and the weather got back to its proper business of concealing the sun for the next three months.

What sort of brought all this to mind was the controversy over the remarks made by the actress Kate Hudson the other day about how much she couldn't stand seeing American tourists in Paris:
"Sometimes I'll be walking down the street and I'll hear some American and I'll just go, 'Of course they hate us, of course they can't stand us.'"

Now this is understandable to a degree. I heard and saw Americans act abominably in various places in Europe, but only a very small number. For me as an American expatriate, though, I loved finding Americans. There would be times when I would go weeks without speaking English, when the sudden sound of spoken American English was like the sweetest music in the world.

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