Autumn has arrived in Paris. The trees which line our avenue, partially obscuring the view from our fifth floor balcony when fully clothed, are beginning to shed their large golden brown leaves, making it more of a challenge to steer the pushchair clear of any déjections canines which may be lurking beneath.
I am slightly embarrassed not to be able to say what type of trees they are, but as I have mislaid my childhood “Spotters’ Guide to Trees”, I’m at a bit of a loss.
Tadpole insists on walking through the leaves, listening to the crackle they make beneath her Startrite shoes, pronouncing them to be “crispy, jus’ like cornflakes!”
It won’t be long before an army of little green men bring out the heavy artillery of leaf blowing/hoovering contraptions, working around the clock to clear the pavements. Men with futuristic looking machines on their backs, powering leaf blowers which blast the debris violently into the gutter. (Tadpole doesn’t like the noise these make, and shrieks, eyes like saucers: “regarde! it’s a big hairdryer mummy!” Hairdryers are Very Scary Things. Apparently.) There are green hoover trucks which drive up and down the roads, sucking up the blown leaves from the gutter with a huge serrated tube. In parallel, more traditional, labour-intensive methods are used involving sweeping brushes and huge green plastic bags.
In the mornings, on our run to the childminder’s house, it feels rather like an obstacle course negotiating the blowers and the sweepers, in addition to the usual pavement power washers and the sprinklers set up in the park, so that they slowly rotate and catch passing pedestrians unawares.
With all this frenetic, noisy activity going on, much of it at dawn, when it really would be nice if it were quiet enough to get some more beauty sleep, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the pavements might actually be clean.
Sadly, the little green men are no match for the combined forces of the Parisian pigeons, dogs with scoopless owners and cigarette butt tossers.
Living in Paris is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.