Paris/COVID: What now my love?

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Take out survival strategies at local restaurants

Recently, this meme popped up on my FB feed:

“At this point I’m about 97.5% feral and won’t be able to be integrated back into society.”

Yep! Covidophobia or Covidophilia?

Many people I talk to are either refusing to deconfine or dreading the prospect. I admit, I have to force myself to go out even on a beautiful day and I hyperventilate when swarms start forming or people get too close, probably not a great idea right now even with a mask…

I’ve never been a crowd person. Arriving in Paris from US suburbs, with limited big city smarts, I avoided large groups from the get-go, especially on public transportation. Until the day a respectable-looking businessman wagged his limp member at me through his open trench coat when I was sitting at the deserted end of a Metro car, where no one else could see what he was doing. This was horrifying in itself but even worse because his organ resembled a bald, dead turkey neck and I was too young and scared to know what to do. Ever after I chose to surround myself with other humans whenever possible, betting on safety in numbers. I bit the bullet going to work at rush hour, squished between shoulder bags and backpacks. I baked in 2-hour lines 5 deep at Disneyland Paris without complaining  just to see the thrill on my kids’ faces once we got on the ride. Tried out the huge stadiums for concerts, but prefer more intimate venues. Jostled and prodded through countless grocery store check-out single files, I developed ingenious personal space strategies. You see, France is not traditionally a place with the same queuing etiquette as the US, not to mention hygiene (with excesses on both sides I grant you). So for me, social distancing is literally a breath of fresh air. Thank you COVID. Thus far I don’t miss mass transit, but I do miss air travel. How else will I return to the States to see my loved ones there? No way I’m getting on a boat.

Other things I don’t miss: the factory atmosphere of industrialized education, with kids in quadrants of 20-30 (and more), formatted by age, herded along as if on conveyor belts with productivity  quotas and evaluations administered by too few overwhelmed adults, and little one-to-one attention. As long as we’re starting over, how about getting rid of factory farms?

Things I’m glad to “get back” to: recycling and composting, street cleaning. Things I can’t wait to experience again: cafés and restaurants, museums, open parks and swimming facilities (but what will they be like?). For info, the Mayor of Paris is installing the fresh water swimming area on our canal (will it be mobbed?)

Will I miss the cheek-brushing French air smooch it took me so long to get used to? Will it come back?

Confinement has been a crucible for relationships, making them or breaking them.  Are some of us turning into plants?

Maybe not such a bad thing? Whatever the case may be, this video is gorgeous:

Can we learn symbiosis?

Forward into uncertainty!

xxxxxx 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

 

Stillness

DSC02479Fontainebleau Forest, winter. Stillness…..

Winter weekend about an hour south east of Paris, staying in Malesherbes, a little town nearby, at a hotel called “L’écu de France.” The word écu has linguistic cred because it originally meant a long shield or support for a heraldic coat of arms, then designated a medieval gold coin, and more recently was almost used as the official title for European currency. Thank heavens “Euro” won out because l’écu is a homonym for les culs (the asses) in French. (So we were staying at “the asses of France” = Gallic in-joke….)

Anyway, great place, modern accommodations, good food (more about that later) with outbuildings, foundations and ground floor dating back to the 17th century, timbered ceilings, a huge fireplace in the breakfast area, and a stately staircase up to the rooms. Ours was so silent, it was like an isolation pod: no humming refrigerator, no sloshing-gurgling washing machine, no fingers pounding on keyboards, no voices seeping through the bathroom wall, no doors slamming on the landing, no sirens from the street, no motors vibrating the buildings, no neighbor child practicing the saxophone…. People always remark on how calm our place is, but  I realized the sound effects are frequent, if muffled, and how strange and velvety smooth real quiet can be.

Couldn’t wait to walk in the forest… 35 million years ago it was under the ocean and over time, compressed sand formed huge boulders that cover almost 10,000 acres of the total  60,000. They huddle together like trolls turned to stone in The Hobbit. Off season is perfect, very few hikers and climbers, only the occasional trail biker. Calm, alive, natural matrix, network of living creatures, communicating in subtle ways underground and through the air. Peace.

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’re expressed in statistics? Why not trust what we feel when we’re there?

Now the food:

Assortment of terrines made on site by the chef (pork, pheasant, rabbit)

Selle d’agneau au jus (roasted lamb saddle in mouth-watering sauce)

Fontainebleau maison (fromage blanc, mixed with whipped cream)

Pithiviers pastry (almond cake, very good with the Fontainebleau cream)

Fresh baguette bread from local bakery

Wine: Saumur Champigny (red), Saint Cyr en Bourg (Touraine), Domaine Saint-Just vinyard, Cabernet Franc grapes

Lovely service, price reasonable… Generous breakfast, full lunch menu…

Vive la France

xxxxx Aliss