Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont Park

Paris 19th…Now:DSC03606and then, before landscaping, Eiffel’s bridge, and the cliff-top temple:DSC03607My favorite park is celebrating a big birthday–150 years… I thought I knew it by heart, but new signs commemorating remarkable trees and the park’s transformation are full of cool factoids:DSC03611Did you know this tree is called “horse chestnut” because in ancient times its fruit was used as fodder? That this former quarry was a horse cemetery in the 19th century? That draft horses from Vincennes are still used here for logging? DSC03610.JPGPlanted in 1870, this sycamore is 25m tall. Tiny picnickers and miniature bench give an idea of scale…Another specimen:DSC03609Planted in 1865, this one is 20m tall. Symbiotic parasites thicken its bark while its survival strategy creates an “elephant foot” shape at the base. In Greek mythology  plane trees symbolized regeneration and it’s dark heavy wood was used to build the Trojan horse…It’s so huge I couldn’t fit it into one shot. People left of the trunk (center) add perspective.DSC03608And on the other side of the park:DSC03613An association called Kaloumba had set up awnings, tables, chairs and traditional games from all over the world, for all ages. One item from their beautiful collection:DSC03612

Kaloumba specializes in keeping these alive as cultural, social, educational and therapeutic tools, organizing workshops to make your own games from recycled materials, to then keep or sell for worthy causes. Check out their website: http://kaloumba.com

Happy Birthday Buttes Chaumont 🙂 xxxxx Aliss

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Today the water was laughing

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Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19, near the soon-to-open “Live Water” swimming area, canal so clear, I stopped in my tracks to admire fish of all sizes swimming among the plant life.

Two electric-blue dragonflies flitted in front of me, hovered and disappeared, too fast to photograph. (The fish, too, are camera-shy). When Jacques Chirac was Mayor of Paris many moons ago, he announced he’d swim in the Seine in the year 2000. It took longer than he thought, but decades of effort by local communities and the Paris city government, bio-diversity campaigns and sewage treatment, are paying off. What seemed like science fiction is actually happening.

For more information about wild flora and fauna in Paris,  “sustainable walk” apps, action steps:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#balades-paris-durable_5

Beautiful posters to download:

http://www.paris.fr/biodiversite#affiches-sur-la-faune-et-la-flore-parisiennes_8

Reasons for optimism! Love xxxxx Aliss

My life inside an impressionist painting (updated Sept. 28)

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Reflections from my Parisian village….

Had a hard time reentering the Parisphere this year, so made a list of places to reconnect with the soul of France. First stop: le Musée de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies:

http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/fr/article/visite-virtuelle-des-nympheas

Yes, of course you can take the virtual tour via the link above and you can go there on a crowded weekend, walk through the oval rooms filming with your smartphone, and check it off your list of tourist attractions to “do” in Paris. That’s about how I did it the first time. Then I accompanied US friends to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny (about two hours northwest) and crossed that off my list, too, but something kept pulling me back. I researched the best time to go to avoid the tour buses and found myself spending hours sitting by the lily pond under the willow branches, immersed in peace and beauty. Then I returned to see the waterlilies at the Orangerie, again and again, weekdays at lunch time, when it’s almost empty, sliding around the oval benches in the soft natural light, facing the panels with soft eyes until the colors imprinted on my retina and I could almost slip between the layers of flowers, water, clouds, and sky. I wanted only the sensual elemental experience, not an intellectual art-snob number, so I deliberately ignored all documentation.

This time I went on a Thursday midday, was almost alone in the twin spaces and finally saw that the exhibit is not a rendering of Giverny’s pond, but more freely interpreted to create loops of time, light, and overlapping worlds. Later I wandered into the deserted audiovisual room downstairs and had the film about how Monet created this place all to myself.  There is much more to say, in the coming days,  about how my vision has been transformed by Monet’s spirit, how I’m seeing my cityscape literally in a different light.

To be continued….. xxxxx Aliss

Forest Bathing (2) (US style)

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Time with the trees, from the Catskills to the Taconic Range….

In an earlier post on February 22, from the Fontainebleau Forest south of Paris, I

“Recalled running across a new term: ‘forest bathing,’ translated from Japanese and Korean, meaning to spend relaxing time in the woods. (French version: sylvothérapie)

Highly recommended reading, how trees secrete natural antibiotics, essential oils, and other substances that heal infections, comparison of number of germs found in cities (lots) and in forests (none), beneficial effect on stress symptoms such as blood pressure…etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/forest_bathing

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvothérapie

Disturbing to think that seeing the information presented scientifically is more persuasive than just being there. Are we so removed from our senses that we can only take them seriously when they are expressed in statistics? Why not trust what we feel when we’re there?”

Above picture taken at the top of Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts, on the Appalachian and Mohawk trails, overlooking 4 states. Very moving and uplifting because the mountain that inspired Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville  was once completely devastated by logging and charcoaling. Only a stand of old growth red spruce were spared due to their inaccessible location. In 1885 a group of local businessmen bought up 400 acres to create a conservancy and eventually turned it over to the State. Since then the preserve has grown to more than 12,500 acres and the forest has healed itself.

For an enlightening look at how trees communicate and support each other through living underground networks, “The Wood Wide Web,” featuring Merlin Sheldrake:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-secrets-of-the-wood-wide-web

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Learning from the trees…. To be continued xxxxx Aliss

 

A far far greener place…

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Teleported to another continent, another latitude, another time zone, another reality…

Echoing: “I want to know exactly what color green it was,” said Sylvia.

“The modern English word green comes from the Middle English and Anglo-Saxon word grene, from the same Germanic root as the words “grass” and “grow”.[1] It is the color of living grass and leaves[2][3] and as a result is the color most associated with springtime, growth and nature.[4] By far the largest contributor to green in nature is chlorophyll, the chemical by which plants photosynthesize and convert sunlight into chemical energy. Many creatures have adapted to their green environments by taking on a green hue themselves as camouflage. Several minerals have a green color, including the emerald, which is colored green by its chromium content.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green#In_culture

Artichoke, asparagus, avocado, chartreuse, dark green, fern green, forest green, Hooker’s green, jungle green, laurel green, light green, mantis, moss green, myrtle green, mint green, pine green, sap green, shamrock green (Irish green), tea green, teal, olive,  crayola green, pantone green, army green, bottle green, bright green, Brunswick green, Castleton green, celadon, emerald, feldgrau, yellow-green, harlequin, hunter green, India green, Islamic green, jade, kelly green, malachite, midnight green, neon green, office green, Pakistan green, Paris green, Persian green, rifle green, Russian green, screamin’ green, sea green…

Viridian, parakeet, pistachio, lime, pear, pickle, crocodile, sage, seaweed, basil, juniper, clover, broccoli, eel, caterpillar, grasshopper, dollar bill, lettuce, cactus, parrot, lawn, lizard, pea….

to be continued xxxx Aliss