Saturday, 22 November 2008

First Snows of the Winter

At about 5am this morning a huge crack of thunder pierced the pitch dark and silence of a late November Saturday morning...
Getting up a few hours later to make tea and start the day we were welcomed with the sight of the first real snow of winter.
Forecasts suggested a metre of snow higher up and so a little randonnée or raquette may be in order... but with the wind from the north blowing across the lake winter has arrived...
Light the wood stove, crack open a bottle of wine and curl up...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Friday, 7 November 2008

More rock an' roll...

He can close his eyes and
feel, the weight of her mouth on his.

He can close his eyes and see
her still body sleeping, lost in
myriad dreams.

He can close his eyes and remember
the photos he cannot find.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Time to burn Catholiks...

...while America sleeps or indeed parties in a frenzy and Republicans wearily shake their heads and wonder how they lost having McCain and Sarah Palin on the combined ticket...that part of Great Britain called England is gearing up to that other party held on that island's shores each 5th November...Guy Fawkes Night.

"Remember, remember, the fifth o' November!" went the rhyme I would as a kid chant without ever really knowing or wondering where it came from.

Much later having moved to France and living amongst Catholics as if it makes any difference at all on a day-by-day basis which of course it does not; I encountered an English woman who had with her husband and large brood of kids moved to this same area. She happily announced to a bunch of immigrants to France from eastern Europe, South America and North Africa gathered to learn French in a rundown Collège, that she and her family celebrated Guy Fawkes Night with fireworks and a bonfire.

I distinctly recall the sight of their faces. Some just thought she was stupid. Others were quite horrified that their beloved religion was the subject of such mockery, and even others thought the savagery of the English and their ignorant celebration of that memory quite odd. She was oblivious to those others.

She made an effigy of Mr Fawkes, a Guy; which would be made of old clothes; paper stuffed down an unwanted pair of hubby's jeans, a threadbare pullover stuffed likewise and tied to the "legs". A mask depicting the cartoon face of poor old Mr Fawkes would adorn the apology for a head and the finished item placed atop the bonfire to burn - as Catholics were burned, centuries ago in Merry Olde Englande.

And as the whoosh of the rockets, the cracks and bangs of the fireworks, children's delighted shouts and the crackling roar of the bonfire drew the attention of her neighbours and they peered from the nearby chalets to find out the reasons for this unknown celebration; she could tell them in her gutteral estuary tones...

"It's Guy Fawkes Night innit? We 'ave a bonfire, fireworks and the kids hold sparklers and we 'ave baked beans and sausages, and sometimes spuds cooked in the coals of the bonfire! What?
'ho's 'e? He's the Guy. He's the guy what tried to blow up Parliament...'oh long time ago, now..."

Yeah! 'eesa Cafolik, innee? Yeah, I know you are too...but that's different, innit?"

Yes. 2008; we celebrate the burning to death of a Catholic in 1605 in what is called the Gunpowder Plot.
...and here's a nice picture of Mr Fawkes and his mates shown with the kind permission of the artist Mr Crispijn van de Passe of the Netherlands.

We've moved on haven't we, we English?

And The World Awakes...

... this morning to be given the truly momentous news that America has elected its first non-white President in Barack Obama. It was quite a telling moment watching history being made when the families of the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect took to the Chicago stage at the end of Obama's speech of thanks, acceptance and acknowledgement; that the majority of those now in the White House are black.

When the reality of that hits home to middle-America; the fly-over States, how will they react?

They've moved on, the Americans. Haven't they?

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Soldat du Jura

Ist November and an empty All Souls' Day walk led us to a small stonemason's and sculptrice's workshop where the low whirring of a small hand held drill broke the quiet.

The Tailler de Pierre was a top a step ladder and smoothing the skin of the nearly finished monument to fallen French soldiers of the First World War. This was a new monument being carved 90 years after the end of that enormous conflict and would replace the crumbling original somewhere in the Jura, on the other side of Switzerland.

I have often been surprised, saddened and occasionally sometimes shocked at the sheer number of names of the fallen French on the monuments in the smallest town or village as I have travelled in this beautiful, complex and very proud country.

Differences of language and lack of understanding the tongue of someone who lives, at nearest, only 22 miles from the shore of Britain has hindered our ability to share the pain and through that become the friends that we truly should be.

Certainly so, 90 years after the end of The Great War...

There's another shot here....

It snowed on Thursday... October 30...

It snowed on Thursday last... end of October and still in the colours of autumn. It lay deep and crisp and even upon the farmed fields, in which grazed the surprised beasts of the fields and the beasts of burden.
The callous farmers left their charges to nuzzle for grass and didn't bother to haul the rolls of hay; the bales of straw to make their beds...
But of course the following day with a bit of sun and the rise of temperatures most of the snow was gone and autumn returned to continue its seasonal tussle with the witch of winter.