Monday, March 21, 2011

Beauty defined by age and weathering

When I travel with my husband, we usually have a long list of must-see places to go to. Our first day on the ground we like to walk around and serendipitously stumble on things that we've read about while getting our bearings. Paris has been no different.

We headed out of our apartment that overlooks a corner of the Louvre and is above the Louis Vuitton design studios. Walking immediately out of our door is the only time I feel like I am complete fashion dolt. The people who work there look like they walked right out of a magazine. They are all ages and look stunning. They look like they could persevere through anything on looks along. Incredible.

In wandering beyond our door we found the Flower Markets by Notre Dame fascinating. The air was filled with the fresh fragrances of hyacinth, lilac and magnolias, and the brilliant colors of forsythia, primerose, irises, and hydrangeas. The store owners were nice and patient and happy to let me photograph their wares. One of the store owners had an Olive tree in a container that had to be over 20 years old, but well pruned to be within reach.

By the time we reached Notre Dame, the crowds were so heavy that we decided to keep walking and look for nice vistas of the beautiful rose window from the outside.

This adventure led us to the Square René Viviani. This small city garden overlooks the church from across the river and holds one of the most oldest and durable trees in all of Paris. Planted in 1602, this tree has managed to survive numerous wars, the revolution, religious upheavals, protests, and city life. The tree is a Robinia pseudoacacia or False aralia. This is a hardy tree in any planting, but sometime in this plants' life the trunk has hollowed and was filled with cement, a relatively common practice in the past. It is propped with sturdy cement columns and is now covered in two types of climbing ivy (or perhaps it is only Hedera helix in its mature and immature stages next to each other) that are vigorous.

Robinia pseudoacacia or False aralia.

Robinia pseudoacacia or False aralia with Notre Dame in the background.

It is still surviving with the obvious help of people and despite the more obvious weathering of time. I feel lucky to have seen this tree and think about everything it has witnessed through the last 409 years. Growing in sight of the grand Notre Dame Cathedral this tree is just a baby, but perhaps our lady can help protect it a little longer.

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