17 hours ago
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Saturday is Market Day in our town! Stands of meats, and cheeses, and vegetables, and a guy who will fix your wicker chairs, and flowers, and sweaters, and an apple seller. We bought a sheep's cheese (the kids' first!), some Emmenthal, and a pont l'Évêque, a slice of paté (forestier, with mushrooms), and then I went nuts with the green vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, mâche). People were chatting and catching up and we wove our way in and out with the other tourists. Wonder if we'll see the parents of the kids' classmates there in future weeks. Wonder if we'll be chatting and catching up. We've been here just long enough to have formed a few habits (it's Oliver who goes with Mac in the morning to get pastries), but we are still so, so new here. But nothing like brooding over a broccoli choice to make you feel at home!
The sunny weather (not a cloud in the sky) was cause for celebration, and the kids played up and down the promenade at the top of the market street, which, by the way, is named for Olivier de Clisson, local hero (but I'm not yet sure if it's the IVth or Vth they're talking about, so will hold off on any exposé). The intrigues of the nobility here got especially heated around the War of Breton Succession, a particularly intense chapter of the Hundred Years War between England and France. Wo unto thee if you died without a male heir in France (darn Salic law!) - I always think of the tremendous pressure on the women - the waiting, the watching, the birth, the danger. My favorite is Jeanne d'Evreux and her many daughters and, consequentially, the end of the Capetian line in 1328 (had been in power since 987). She was much beloved throughout her long life - no blame or castigation. So many things to understand.
But I digress (sort of). If you look down the end of the promenade, you'll see a tall column, and maybe that there's a Gallic rooster on top. What you can't see are the inscriptions of those who died in WWI (and WWII, and for the Resistance, and in Indochine and Algérie). The name inscribed at the very top of the column is that of the mayor of Josselin, the Duke of Rohan, who was Captain during the war. There's something here I find really fascinating: the Rohan family came into the possession of the castle of Josselin in the 15th century (a daughter had married one of the Olivier Clissons), and they had ruled the town ever since. I can't quite put it into words, but there's something about the WWI Rohan feeling a sense of duty to his town and country, and serving (and presumably getting killed) in this war as a captain. Some echo of feudal obligation, of duty. I guess that I'm thinking that he could have used his royal status to get out of serving in the war, instead of serving in a commanding position.
All this to say that today was a quiet day of musings and wanderings: market, lunch of Breton quiche (sausage and apples, together at last!), first tussling with the European laundry machine (success!), romp in the Woods of Love (I love seeing the kids run in there - there's a bamboo grove where Oliver and Eleanor both found lances - Iris was looking for flowers), then home to make a fish soup using cider as the broth base (totally worked - great flavor). Tomorrow is Epiphany - much to do about an almond pastry, finding a bean, and getting to wear a paper crown. Anon!