Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The dance of fecundity.

The sun has made an appearance for a second morning in a row. Can it be that after two weeks of solid rain and chill temperartures summer is at last arriving? Wilf seems to think so. He has sprawled himself out on the grass to soak up the early morning warmth . After our walk to the light industrial park we stopped off at the fishmongers for some prawns for a risotto. There were six salmon heads staring unblinkingly at me on the counter. Who in their right mind would buy a fish head? At the greengrocers they were selling flat peaches - unsure what they were used for they were left well alone.

We didn't think that there was much more that could surprise us about life in our sleepy little village. That is until this morning. Madame Bay, who is still very taken with the new locum : - "Il est vachement bandant!" - arrived with a spring in her step and a smile on her lips. She was collecting for the 'antique' ie 'bric a brac' stall for Saturdays saint day festivities. I gladly scouted around for some pieces that she could take away with her. Then she dropped the bombshell. 'Had we made reservations for the dinner on Saturday night?'.

It seems that every year the two mutually loathing village committees hold a 'feast' after the yard sale and at the end of the religious ceremonies. At six in the evening the statue of the local saint is paraded around the village ( yes, that's right past all eight houses ) to scare away evil spirits. Then after the hard work is done everyone from the village and the outlying farms ( a grand total of 67 including yours truly and 'the font' ) repairs to the village hall for a night of festivating. At midnight, which by my reckoning is at least five and a half hours after the armagnac and floc have been opened there is a 'feu de la St.Jean'.

I caught a look of horror on ' the fonts' face as the description of a 'feu de la St.Jean' came tumbling out - "Ces feux, tres anciens,sont investis de vertus magiques : ils purifient et protegent contre les sorcieres, les maladies, les puces ... le village se reunissent pour des danses et des sauts fecondants par-dessus le feu". In other words the fire is invested with magical properties which purify and protect against sorcerers, illness, insects ... the village all gathers together for a fertility dance and hop around the fire.

The sight of the slightest tremble on the fonts lower lip told me that we were both sharing the same tear inducing vision of a chiffoned Madame Bay dancing and hopping around the village bonfire in a solstace frenzied druidic fertility dance. A French Boadicea. What have we done? Where have we come to? Would the young locum be there? Would the knee problem disappear as suddenly as it arrived? Welcome to the world of John Updike.

Wilf is not bothered by any of this- he's dreaming of fish heads and the fact that there maybe a place that's even better than the butchers.


  1. You MUST make reservations! Take the mobile to get pictures. Could it be the unveiling of Madame Bay? There is an international audience waiting with bated breath.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  2. I agree with scotsmad - Pictorial evidence of the Dance of Madame Bay ought to be recorded for posterity due to her fast growing legendary qualities within the international blogging community. I too await with baited breath...

    Kate :-)

  3. Reservations are a must!! Or just crash the party - they won't notice. Do you have a camcorder? Videos might be in order!!

  4. what a wonderfully crazy little town you live in! i know i wouldn't buy the fish heads!
    Wilf looks so content....

  5. I am still in two minds as to whether visual evidence is required or if the Madame Bay of my imagination is quite sufficient! The combination of armagnac and fire sound ripe with interesting possibilities, even leaving aside the fertility dance aspect! (Once on a work-related field trip looking at rocks in Haute Provence, we stumbled across a midsummer celebration in the little of Annot and at past midnight observed unsupervised young children playing long jump across a bed of red-hot embers, totally ignored by the adults drinking nearby. One suspects that the 'health and safety' culture has not taken firm root in some parts of rural France! )
    It all seems a bit boring in Aberdeen..
    Cheers, Gail.

  6. We agree, Angus -- you have an international audience waiting with baited breath!!!

    Ths year your little village; next year, who knows, Stonehenge???

    xxx Joan

  7. Wait, wait ~ no fair to Madame Bay, unless, of course, she consents. Does she know she has a global following?

    The dance, yes, pictures demanded are necessary.


  8. Oh, this is an event you can't miss! I have got to see pictures of this! You could take a picture of Madame Bay's outfit and just cut off her head. Just saying!

    Wilf, oh to be blissfully ignorant of the festival to come!

    Just say no to fishheads!

  9. Updike? I think not. More like Lewis Carroll!

  10. I read your post this morning around 5 AM and here it is lunchtime, and I'm still speechless...The thought of Madame Bay dancing and hopping around a village bonfire is quite an image at any time of the day. I still imagine her looking and sounding a bit like Julia Child...

  11. Oh, I would pay to see Madame Bay doing a fertility dance around a bonfire!

  12. Oh we do the fire dance most every weekend around here. Except that there's no fire and very little dancing. Mostly it's just watching House reruns. But inside it's the same! :)

  13. Oh my goodness, my image of your village becomes more bizarre by the day. That situation, with Madame Bay describing the agenda to you, would require that my husband and I NOT dare make eye contact with each other - otherwise, we'd break out in wild giggling. We both recognize those situations and steadfastly ignore each other to avoid humiliating anyone.

    But, I agree that you MUST make reservations. It is not an event to be missed! I must say that your new village is much more interesting than your previous home. You have endless material for your blog...

    BTW, the photos of Wilf today are spectacular. Something about the light brings out his handsomeness even more than usual. But, don't tell him or his head will swell!

  14. This totally sounds like an event you can not possible miss.

  15. heeheehee! this is the time where you MUST take pictures of mme. bay and her fertility dancing!