Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Freudian imagery and the alarmed Iowans.

The plane trees that line the roads and provide much needed shade at the height of the summer are shedding their leaves. Usually they drop their foliage in September so it as matter of much concern when it occurs this early. Madame Bay, being a walking repository of country knowledge, says that this is a bad sign and that the last time this happened was when she was staying with her grandmother in May 1940. In these parts a date replete with unspoken significance. We take this nugget of country insight with a pinch of salt as Madame Bay would have been barely four at the time.

Having said that the weather of late has been wildly changeable. After a blistering morning it clouded over in mid -afternoon and the temperatures fell to the high teens. A perfect time to go out with Wilf in the car for a walk along the river banks. We had barely gone three miles when the road through one of the local villages was completely blocked by a seathing mass of humanity. The local gendarme informed us that it was the ancient feast of St.Noe - the villages patron saint. It seems the feast day is celebrated by chopping down a tree and a processing with it around the village.

When we arrived the village maids were engaged in directing the village lads to manhandle this huge tree, complete with its leafy canopy , through the streets. The Freudian symbolism of the event didn't warrant thinking about. By six in the evening the lads, copiously fuelled by wine ladled out of buckets by the village maids , were six sheets to the wind. Not surprisingly the boys had increasing difficulty in coordinating their movements and had got the tree stuck firmly in the railings of a balcony where the high street takes a sharp right angled turn to the left.

Two American couples on a driving tour of France were standing under the village gate seeking protection from the heaving crowd of clog wearing revellers in front of them. The couple from Dubuque had the look of folks who were wondering if there was an earlier flight out . The etched on 'Sure I'm enjoying myself ' grin did little to conceal the worry that another bucket of wine and the increasingly latin public dispalys of affection might spiral out of control into lusty bacchanalia.

On with the televison last night to catch the eleven o'clock news. Instead we found ourselves watching transfixed at the Eurovision Song Contest .The perfect smile inducing end to an eventful day was caused by the appearance of the Icelandic performer -an admittedly younger, but nonetheless a dead ringer, both in looks and dress sense, for our much loved Madame B.

Today Wilf and yours truly shall be outside testing the new paint colour on one of the shutters.


  1. Oh now I am so sorry now that I missed the Eurovision song contest, if only to catch a glimpse of Mme Bay's double. From Iceland too - how very improbable. BBC iPlayer to the rescue!
    Cheers, Gail.

  2. "Much loved Madame Bay" is so right! If she were on such a show I'd vote for her, and I think others would as well, she already has a world-wide fan club!

    Interesting festival--I can understand why the couple from Iowa had a "deer in the headlights" look about them, I am quite sure I would have too!

  3. crazy times in France...any excuse for a good party!!

  4. You can't say the French don't have a sense of humour! We'd love to see a photo of Wilf with Madame Bay!

  5. What an weird/cool event! Never heard of it, but you learn something new every day...!

  6. Once again, your colorful descriptions bring to life an event full of French flair. Such revelry can only be one-upped by Mardis Gras in New Orleans, I suspect, and perhaps the couple from Iowa had experienced that French/Southern debauchery first hand as well. No wonder they were apprehensive!

    Madame Bay, unbeknownst to her, is gathering quite a following. Perhaps you can sneak a picture of her - from a respectable distance and of her good side, of course - into your blog sometime. I would love to see one of her hats.


  7. It seems that there is SO much revelry in your part of the country - and so many sources of amusement!

    I love your description of the looks on the faces of the American couples!

    BTW, Wilf is really sporting the "wild hair" look right now! It makes me smile.

  8. Sending love your way...and this simply say that your blog is still a favourite and every word still relished!
    There is never a dull moment in your neighbourhood, is there?

  9. I have a good friend in Sweden who was giving me details about the show last night. I am begging him for a picture of that singer from Iceland!

    I'm surprised you didn't join in with the revelers!

  10. Wilf's hairdo is fantastic!! Ginger's gets this way too. Actually her hair looks much like Wilf's right now. That is quite a street party!! xoxo

  11. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your pictures and descriptions of life in France. As an American who dreams of seeing Europe but probably never will, I so enjoy your blog! Thank you!

  12. The festival procession has a decidedly Pythonesque vibe.
    Monty Python, that is.

  13. I love those pictures of the people in wooden clogs, it reminds me of my time in the Netherlands!

    My hair looks just like Wilf's does when I wake up in the morning and haven't combed it yet.

  14. Sorry we wimped out after three Eurovision contestants.....couldn't take any more.

    We would have enjoyed the festival though.

    XXXOOO Daisy,Kendra & Bella

  15. Hmmm. Let me think about this. Take an(apparently huge) tree, foliage and all, and a bunch of fellows to carry said tree.Add to that the females all giving encouragement and directions. While all partake enthusiastically of wine. All day. Stir in a holiday that calls for wandering all the streets with this tree. What are the odds that anything could possibly go awry?? Oh man. What a laugh you gave me today painting that picture! (I imagine one of the visitors from Iowa saying "Dorothy, we're not in*Iowa* anymore! hahahahahaha)
    Wilf continues to rock the spiked look!
    Thinking of y'all
    Jamie and the Texas Sundogs

  16. Ah ha! I found a link with not only the Mme Bay doppelganger but a video of her song!

    At first glance of those photos, I thought it might have been a contest to make the world's longest baguette! No doubt those Iowans were expecting a more Disneyfied version of France. Wonder what they would have made of our long-gone Toadfish Tournament here on Hilton Head, complete with the crowning of Miss Toadfish herself!

  17. Dog forbid there be any bachnalian behavior! the horrors! ;) cover Wilf's eyes, then enjoy yourselves...

  18. I must agree with Anonymous. I would love to live in Europe one day! So thank you for sharing your lives with us!