When I first came to Paris, I knew nothing of the city and its surroundings. I would spend most of my free time visiting Paris downtown, taking pictures of famous places and what intrigued me. But I was missing the long walks I used to take when I lived in Chazay d’Azergues, a tiny village near Lyon which is my hometown.
Quite fortunately, I soon found another person who had the same longing for wandering in the woods, leap over tiny streams, walking over fallen trunks, and above all, exploring woods without any map nor any precise goal. Just wandering into the woods, enjoying the solitude of nature together, and taking pictures of all the insignificant things we could find, turning them into amazing memories.
This friend of mine had me discover the woods of Meudon, which I visited this morning. These are not far from Paris, and you can easily get there if you take line C of the RER network.
I remember the first time I went there, I liked it very much. There were three or four lovely ponds to take pictures of, many mushrooms to find and play with, beautiful and impressive old oak trees, countless chestnut trees, some ash trees and hornbeams, and of course, many hidden shortcuts between the main paths where we could disappear from the civilised world of Sunday runners and cyclists. We went there numerous times, always taking pictures, sometimes chasing mushrooms, other times picking up some chestnuts that we would roast in the oven later.
And then, we stopped going there. I remember an argument, and that’s all. I forgot a place I loved for an argument. That’s the kind of things that make me ponder about how much I still have to learn to be half the man I want to be.
Yesterday, I thought it would be a nice idea to go there, maybe for the last time, but just to have one last good memory. I guess this is a part of how I work : even though I like saying I don’t keep bad memories, the truth is I keep them. But if you give me other good memories, then I will cherish them more than the bad ones, and with time, I will forget them and only praise the good ones. I think life is too short, and people too important, to give room to bad memories. Only keep the best. Because in the end, only the best matters.
So this morning, I woke up early to go for a walk in the woods of Meudon. After such a long time, I thought I would get lost. But I didn’t. I remembered all the paths exactly. All the places where I had been. All the places where I had taken pictures I had loved. Everything. And only good things. Not a tear ran from my eyes, only a smile on my face. The weather was sunny. The temperature was a bit cool for summertime, but very agreeable. Under the branches of the trees, the light was mesmerising. I loved being there, alone in the forest. The smell of the soil, the feel of each step drowning in dead leaves, the sound of the wind shaking the trunks of the massive oak trees, the spider webs that had been weaved during the previous night… It made me feel alive again. It made me smile. And I even thought I saw my friend running ahead.
I’ve walked for 4 hours in total. But these 4 hours felt too short. I wish I had had more energy to explore the woods. I had found a hidden tower that I wish I could have climbed up. I had found many hidden paths leading to clearings where there was none in sight. To think you can find this at the doorstep of Paris is astounding.
In the end, I came back with nice memories of a place that I’ve loved for a long time, but had forgotten. I remember why I loved these woods, and I love them still. I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to visit them again and do what I couldn’t do today. I hope. But I also feel relieved : this is a good memory that is worth being shared. And I only want good memories from now on.