Low tide in Paris

April 21st, 2013, 6pm

It was 16°C with clouds and visibility OK. The breeze was gentle.

Every Sunday at 9:00AM prompt the Commodore stands by the octagonal basin of the Jardin du Luxembourg. A circle soon forms around the grey haired old man checking his model submarine in a complex ritual. Uniformed wardens, retired servicemen for most, address him by his rank. Soldiers for ever. Early morning solo tourists gape at the scene, whisper to the closest regular dreaming of high seas and secret missions. A woman from the West Indies joins the all male gathering, breaks into the circle for a closer look at the black cigar-shaped object exposed to appreciative eyes. She’s in her late fifties, like the Commodore; he turns the engine on, gives the sub a last stroke, ready for action. Regulars frown, turn their back, amble away looking sideways at the duo. Women should be taught to stay in their place. A second wave of gawkers is now watching the meticulous manoeuvers from a distance, squinting to follow the barely visible antenna peeking out of the water; snorkel time; it dives, circles around the water-jet, surfaces, goes back and forth between bored drifting ducks. Kids run around, tease and chase each other, wait for their fathers to stop discussing remote controls and jams. The centre of attention has changed; a fleet of trawlers, sail and speed boats crisscross the basin, collide. Tourists run about in rolling waves, take turns at shooting each other, hurry back to their coach for the next step of a rushed one-day visit. The Commodore dissolves in the crowd, unnoticed.

Chris and Noam said thanks.

Share this moment

Tom Frozart

PhD in Information science, coaching engineers in hi flying industries worldwide. Former head of scientific team in Antarctica. Author of short stories, Skive Magazine (Sydney)

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook