A History of Paris through Plants

Who needs museums to read history? Just take a walk through a forest.

Well, this is a dramatic  and silly proposition that  does not  deserve response and that would lead to a slow spiritual death for this blogger if it were affirmative.

Yet, there is something to be said for observing the oldest inhabitants of Paris: its plant life. 

While walking through the Bois de Vincennes, a former royal hunting ground,  I was reminded of an article I came across in the New Yorker some months ago.

The article basically spoke to the underrated intelligence and endurance of plant life.

How do these thoughts join up, you say?  I do not know. But I would venture to say that to understand the history of the city, it may be interesting to work through some natural history of Paris textbooks.  The resilience of plant life may offer within it clues to some of the city’s history and key turning points, who knows?

It struck me during a sublime and beautiful walk through Vincennes that these former royal hunting grounds retain some of the very life forms and sensory experiences – the smells, sounds, tastes that shaped the lives of people far removed from ours – at least in terms of time. 

Developing a solid sense of history, it seemed to me, necessarily needs some dialogue or understanding of the natural environment that is not just superficial. This isclearly a task too extensive for a blog post, but one that will be pursued by this blogger.