After twenty-three hours of waiting and traveling and traveling and waiting, we made it back home, where we were so excited to be that we promptly fell on the bed and slept for four hours. I couldn't sleep for love or money on the six hour flight over the atlantic, and either couldn't risk it (on the express RER from the airport to Gare du Nord) or wanted to desperately and couldn't (thanks to the three children under the age of seven and their useless mother on our packed TER train from Paris to Troyes). After a pit stop at the in-laws' to say hello to Papa, Maman Ute drove us the rest of the way home. If you've read any entries at all that I've written about her, you can already guess that we come home to a sparkling clean apartment. God bless that wonderful woman.
The weather has changed so much that I almost don't know how to act. With highs in the low 70s and the nights quite cool, for the first time in at least two months I actually slept under the covers last night. All the shutters are open to let the sunlight in, and Steph even had to throw a pullover on this morning, though my idea of heaven is being just warm enough to not need one. It's funny to me just how easily we've fallen back into our everyday routines and the only time I felt any kind of culture shock at coming home was when we arrived at the airport and I noticed how gray and dingy Charles de Gaulle airport is, and even Steph remarked that coming back to Paris can be something of a let-down when you've just left the pristine cleanliness of America's public spaces.
While we were home, we enjoyed some of the ragu sauce my aunt had made while she was visiting Dad, which prompted Dad to print out for us his own ragu recipe (no no, ragu is not just a sauce in a can). It calls for something like three pounds of meat, which is right up Steph's alley. Although I wasn't too keen when Steph suggested we make it today, it turns out that it was a perfect way to spend our first day home, since the actual work only takes about half an hour and I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing out on the couch, interrupted every fifteen minutes to stir the sauce. It does require a rather lengthy shopping list, including a lot of time at the meat counter, but you do nearly just throw everything in a pot and let it go for about three hours. We ended up replacing merguez for Italian sausage, because even though I'm closer to Italy than ever before, it's impossible to find here in the farmland of France. We had a small portion of it for dinner tonight, and the rest will be frozen for future consumption.
Traditionally, the first dinner from a new pot of Italian sauce was an event in my family, with piles of garlic bread and all the spaghetti you could eat, and maybe even a sip of wine when my sister and I were kids if my parents were partaking. Even in December, when Dad helped me make my first pot ever, we had a few friends over to share it with us. Tonight it was just the two of us, and I don't know if I'm pleased about that or not; something this delicious is certainly meant to be shared. Though it's going to be awhile before we get around to making a fresh new pot, I am resolved that the next pot will be celebrated with friends or family so if you like a good red sauce, watch this space and look out for an invitation in about six months!