Ghosts and ghouls, and three-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night
There’s spooky stuff going on around here this week. Squash’s of all shapes and sizes are appearing everywhere and despite me always thinking the French didn’t really celebrate Halloween much there are definitely creepy things lurking in the shadows.
Even in the Boulangerie window there is a sweet little display of carved pumpkins although this was not as sinister as the display in our favourite vegetarian restaurant in Monpazier – who knows what you can eat at the Blood Café sign but I doubt very much it was vegetarian. Halloween is definitely not as big in France as in the UK or the states, but you can find trick and treat sweets in the shops. But….we did not actually see any trick or treating children on the evening itself so just as well that we didn’t stock up on sweets.
Halloween falls right in the middle of La Toussaint which is widely celebrated in France and is actually a public holiday! Yes, another day with the shops shut – but we are getting used to it. La Toussaint is celebrated on 1st November – it is Two Saints Day – a Christian celebration which remembers the dead. Traditionally chrysanthemums are taken to cemeteries to place on graves of loved ones, and these flowers are only associated with death in France – so not the best choice to take around to a neighbour!! Which luckily I didn’t but I did wonder why there were so many in the shops.
So, you can see why Halloween has not been too popular in France – for many people it seems as if it is overshadowing long standing traditions. And the French definitely do not like their traditions coming under threat – which is fair enough!!
Another tradition is of course the hunting season – or the Chasse as it is known. This is more of an institution than tradition and very much part of life in rural France. It’s a dilemma for me, as on the one hand I can see that it is very much part of French life. Also the wild boar (Sanglier) which are hunted would otherwise over-run the countryside. But on the other hand, I just hate anything to do with violence towards any living creature. So, it is fair to say that it is a part of life in France that I do my best to avoid. I’m actually really quite scared to go out walking in the country lanes – so I have taken to wearing neon orange walking top, socks and cap in the hope that if there are any hunters out on the prowl they will see me before they shoot!!
This week we did actually see some hunters whilst out driving – two of them with one dog – and as we drove past I urged Martin to slow down “don’t hit the dog” then we saw a wild boar run across the road! Then it was “slow down there might be another” and quickly followed by “shit go faster they might be following with guns”. It’s all a bit too much for my nerves. Then I felt really sad for the Wild Boar and got a bit tearful. Then told myself “C’est la vie”. But I still wish it wasn’t. It’s not always easy being vegetarian and very sensitive in France, but “Je suis comme ca” – that’s the way I am.
We have seen lots of different wildlife over the last few weeks as well as that wild boar. We saw a dead snake – well it might have been a snake skin – but definitely dead (I know that for sure as Lillie decided to roll in it – disgusting little dog that she is).
We also saw a fire salamander who has decided to make its home in our water supply box.
Maybe it’s because of being spooked by Halloween and Toussaints, or maybe I’m just a bit jumpy because of the Chasse – but I’m also seeing things that are not actually there – for example this giant frog sitting on the edge of road suddenly appeared, And I’m certain that this Troll has been following me home from my walks.And the other night I heard some banging outside the motor home but luckily when I looked out it was just Martin going “bump in the night”.
And then finally….our second Bar Crawl took place this weekend. Great fun was had by all, but look at us!! You would not want to bump into us down a dark alley would you!!
©Sharon Rees-Williams – wordpress.com/thislittlepieceof.land, 2018
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