The Abundance of Creation — Visiting the Zoo of Endangered Creatures at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Jardin des Plantes Paris, Endangered Guinea Hen

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Jardin des Plantes, Paris, endangered Asian stork with month old chick.

 

 

 

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Dejeuner sur l’herbe, Jardin des Plantes, Paris , 20 mai 2014

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Jardin des Plantes, Paris, Lupines and Lavender  May 2014

 

French Gardens

Today we visited the Jardin des Plantes, the botanical garden in Paris, with its lovely vistas, formal gardens, and wide paths, and its small zoologial collection of endangered species.  Probably the most spectacular parts of the animal exhibits were the huge collection of endangered bovines – gaurs, yaks, and various antelopes among them – and the whole row of owls, one larger and more impressive than the last, until we reached the huge and impressive snowy owl. 

We kept trying to follow signs pointing to an exhibit of an unpronounceable primitive horse, but that animal proved elusive.  I hadn’t realized that this species still existed, and perhaps it doesn’t, as we couldn’t find its habitat in the colletion, despite the tempting signs with arrows.  However, we did find a large ass from the south of France, a “baudet.”.  Its main use prior to World War II had been to breed with draft horse mares, to produce huge mules capable of pulling enormously heavy loads.  But after World War II, in France as in other parts of the world, farmers turned to gasoline rather than equines to power their equipment. So the horses and asses became almost extinct, and still exist only because of the extreme efforts of dedicated conservationists to retrieve the species from the edge of disappearance.  This ass was really impressive – as tall as a horse, with a huge head and with dreadlocks falling down its sides, like petticoats.

 Because of their universally endangered status, all the animals we saw were new and different in our experience.  In the context of creation and universal creativity, it expanded our understanding of the amazing and sometimes quirky variety of creatures dwelling on earth.  Our Creator could be said to have a sense of humor.  This visit to a small zoo dramatically expanded my mind’s eye picture of the Ark and its passengers!

I think Paris is more densely and variously populated than New York. The buses were crowded all day long – a work day (Monday), as were the sidewalks, the cafes, and, yes, the garden and zoo. There were many people of all ages and a wide variety of ethnicities from different continents.  I took a picture of a scene that reminded me of the dramatic expanse of picnickers lying on the grass in Seurat’s painting “Dejeuner sur l’herbe.”  The clothing styles are updated, and the river is missing, but otherwise it was essentially the same scene 130 or so years apart.  Paris doesn’t change so much! 

 

About Rev. Rosemary Hyde, Ph.D.

I am a grandmother, a classical homeopath, a mystical poet, and an interfaith minister. I also have a large, enduring place in my heart for Paris. I first spent time in Paris in 1961, as a Fulbright scholar. I remained in France for three years, living also in Toulouse and in Nancy. I have revisited France and Paris multiple times since then, and have come to know central Paris reasonably well. I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where there were many Franco-Americans, and their language fascinated me. I was fortunate in 6th grade, when my family moved, to find myself in a Catholic French speaking girls' school, where I had the wonderful fortune of becoming bilingual. It still feeds my soul deeply, to visit Paris, speak French, and reconnect with the little French girl in me. I am serving presently as co-minister at Unity Center of Peace in Chapel Hill, NC. I give talks one or two Sundays a month -- please go to the website, www.unitychapelhill.org, and sign up for the weekly e-news to learn what's going on -- special events, seasonal interfaith ceremonies, and Sunday themes and talks. My vision for the Unity Chapel Hill ministry and for myself is to become a loving, uniting presence in the lives of all those who cross paths with us. That's all there is, really -- loving presence. And so it is. Amen. My goal as a minister is to add richness to life for those who resonate to more than one religious tradition or to none -- those with mixed religions as well as the unchurched, untempled, and unmosqued. All of us, whatever our cultural allegiances, hunger for and need support in finding the transcendent joy that's ours to find in this earthly life. All of us need and want to celebrate beautifully the great and small milemarker moments. All of us crave the beauty of prayer as an expression of our participation in universal love. All of us wish to learn a greater vision, to see our lives opening to the Divine. All of us desire deeply to find serenity and peace that lasts no matter what happens today and tomorrow. This is the meaning of Transcendessence. We find the essence of spirit and transcend the narrow constraints of our bodies and egos. Join us today by subscribing, so you won't miss a single poem, message, prayer, or meditation.
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