May Day or International Labour Day is Muguet Day(Lily of the valley) everywhere in France. Every corner and every few feet were vendors selling these tiny white bell looking flowers that have a powerful sweet smell that made walking around Paris heavenly scented for a change.
Spicing things up were the many political inspired marches throughout the country, not only to further workers rights but many to protest Marine Le Pen.
Emmanuel Macron and Ms Le Pen are in a tight race, with Macron having a good margin ahead of her in the polls. French polls were right on mark for the first round of voting, but since the US election has cast doubts on the validity of political polling, who knows?
If you are regular to my blog, you are aware that I avoid political commentary with good reason! I not am not into creating divisiveness, but much more invested in creating harmony, compassion, empathy and fellowship.
Talking politics is very risky business and better left to those who live and breathe such things with thick skins and vigor. I have seen it tear up friendships, family and create animosity.
I barely missed registering to vote in the French election, but honestly with my struggling to stay afloat through grief and depression, I have bigger battles to worry about.
On to more pleasant topics, however “intriguing” politics can be strewed. All that I took in this weekend, it was the Forum des Sciences Cognitives conference that gave me the most pleasure and tweaked my own neurons the most with pleasure.
It was held in the ancient former Convent des Cordeliers in the 6th arrondissement, which is now part of the Faculté de Médecine, or Medical School of Paris.
Perhaps it is not surprising that this would hold my interest the most. I love swimming through neurophysiology theories and certainly find the workings of neurobiology more fascinating than politics anytime.
One of the things I love about being a therapist is that psychotherapy is a combination of art and science.
Just by looking at the crowd, 95% were student age with only a mere sprinkling of us older folks, which I found rather disconcerting, but not totally surprised either.
Unfortunately, in my view, is that many who are in psychological fields here prefer to ignore or discount the mounting evidence of neuroscience and how the physiology and biology of neurons contribute to human behavior and the vast array of mental illnesses.
They seem happily intent to stay immersed totally in stagnant pools of Freudian and Lacanian theories, which the rest of the world has left behind, except a few aspects of Freud.
I did see something though very typically French, that I had never seen before in scientific conferences, only on sidewalks and the metro. Two students were glued to caressing and kissing each other non stop rather than listening to the presenter.
The amphitheater was standing room only, except for two seats pass them on the row. I felt too awkward in interrupting their love fest, till the guy finally left before asking if I might take one.
They were a perfect example of sexual hormones being played out, ironically being presented during their very animated demonstration, oblivious to the world.
Another interesting conference was four students who presented their ongoing research; all of which were novel. One called Hero Sea Quest is currently being tested using an application you can download to participate in the study that can have clinical relevance in early diagnosis of dementia.
As I walked away, I wondered if they picked up on my emotional flatness and sad face, which is hard to hide these days.
The convent is visually pleasant to visit with the old archway halls and cloister. There were some shallow pools, filled with students, rather than once held with fish.
I admire tremendously how the French have tried to preserve these architectural and historical treasures and given them new life, by incorporating them into facilities of learning or cultural venues.
Few people are aware that this once peaceful convent, full of devoted monks, became the initial hotbed of revolutionaries who spearheaded the French Revolution.
It all happened when the monks foolishly allowed some townspeople to congregate in some of their halls, some who eventually led to their demise around 1790.
It was Danton and Marat who drew into this convent the angry populace, planting the seeds of revolution under the auspices of a “club” called Le Club des Cordeliers.
Before long these bloodthirsty rebel rousers were drawing vast noisy crowds which by that time threw out the monks, killing many priests there and at the Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés nearby.
It was after five, and I felt too tired to venture on to the Salon des Livres et Papiers Anciennes, which I had failed to muster up enough energy to attend the previous day. I felt I had “done” enough to help stimulate my poor neurons on a blink.
As I was headed towards blvd Saint Michel, I happily stumbled upon a box of old books that had been discarded on the corner of Rue Hautefeuille and Saint Germain. Rummaging through, I found two old cookbooks that I lugged home, despite overflowing bookshelves.
Aimée was busy finishing up her first attempt to making La Tarte Tropezienne, a brioche type cake filled with pastry cream, originated by a baker in 1955 where else, but Saint Tropez!
She did an excellent job, and it was a delicious variation flavoured with Yuzu and coconut.
The metros were not stopping at Bastille, so I got off at Saint Paul and walked towards Bastille on Rue Saint Antoine. Loads of police wagons started to appear as I got closer.
Seems like the majority of artists present were the same basically as last year so I did not spend too much time. I certainly have great admiration of artists and the obvious talent to create their art, a gift few possess.
Same for the old books and papers, neither of which I have the room to store, even if I found one to take home. I like to gaze though at the titles of old books, especially medical ones and the old posters for sale.
Many are considered a work of art, as artists before they were famous often were engaged to paint them, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.
Outside the makeshift walls of the salon, marchers could be heard chanting their usual rhetoric of workers plights and needs, along with drums and music in the background.
Walking back to catch the metro at Saint Paul, I stopped to buy a tiny bouquet of muguet from an elderly lady and enjoyed sniffing up close the lovely scent now and then.
When I returned home, I knew I had to plant some of my seedlings before the moon in Scorpio changed to being unfavorable to transplant or seed. Yes, I believe in planting by the moon.
Since I will be away next week, it had to be now because they were outgrowing the little seed trays, despite not having the warmth outdoors these little babies need.
I had brought home tomatillos from the states, extracted and planted some seeds, which came up nicely. Hopefully there is male and female ones, as if not, they will not fruit.
My Budapest hot pepper seedlings went in too, but they are more hardy I suspect. This is the third year I have planted them from offspring from original peppers brought back from Hungary.
So much for my distractions and plantings of the weekend, however mundane they might seem, they are all very therapeutic to me.