I was fourteen years old, bundled up in a black wool pea coat and blue scar, travelling by train next to my mother. We were headed through the Loire, from Paris, in December, and there was the faintest dusting of snow on the farms we passed. There is a Stephen Cushman poem that encapsulates this experience - the mistletoe bristling in the crotches of tree branches, the iced grey sky, my sleepiness and excitement and slight sense of resignation. I remember walking frozen through the groomed gardens of Chenonceau, my favorite of the Châteaux that we visited, and imagining myself in a long velvet dress and wool cape.
There is nothing like a train-trip through France in December.