Saturday, February 6, 2010

Les Amis! (Monteneuf Redux)

Here are the happy results of another instance in which Mac took over the camera. I was trying to think of something as different as possible from Paris to share with dear Hallie and Matt, and the Standing Stones near Montneuf immediately came to mind. We didn't tell the kids, who had a great day at school (Friday is motricity day!) and took off for a hike and a picnic. We took a different hiking trail than last time and found this marvelous gathering of megaliths.

This particular formation is known as an "Allée Couverte" (a covered alley) and would have been a communal sepulcher (did they find human remains there? Don't know). The marker for it is much older than the others (which are from the 1989 and after excavations). Originally, this covered alley would have had an earth mound on top of it - the stones may or may not have been visible. It was as haunting as the others - and a good kilometer or two from the main site of the stones - isolated, yet gathered together.

Here is another happy result! Time hiking in the woods with wonderful Hallie and Matt. They were utter troopers (it was close to 2 p.m. by the time we ate our picnic) and are utterly inspirational in how fully they are living their lives. They are interested in everything, and rethinking some key things, and seeking out new things. The stones inspired conversations of marking time, memory, and musing over the history of nostalgia (is it a relatively new phenomenon? and yet I think of nostalgia for Eden and the Golden Age - but is it nostalgia if you've never experienced it?).

The stones looked completely different today than they did on January 1st when we were last here. It had just rained (had stopped perhaps 5 minutes before we arrived) and so the stones had enormous dark patches - I understood better why they were believed to morph, change shapes, and move around. As uncomfortable as I would be driving there, I would so love to see these beautiful stones upon a foggy day. Many Breton fairy tales speak of plucky young heroes and heroines who carve crosses into the stones to "tame" them, and control them. Monteneuf will be absolutely wonderful to teach, as it speaks to that incredible medieval chapter when medievals took down 400 of these standing stones (no mean feat). So glad 30+ of them are back up. This was a site to rival Carnac!

There are some terrific displays at the end of this trail, as one approaches the main megalith site. Here, they've positioned a stone on logs to demonstrate how they might have been moved over such great distances (most of these stones are local, although I would consider having to move a stone this size 5 inches a pretty deal!). Apparently the first week of August, there are several demonstrations and re-enacments of life in the Neolithic Period - I wonder if they move the stone. Wow!

And then home, time for a coffee at the Taverne, and then the blissful reunion with the kids! They are so so so excited that Hallie and Matt are here and have BIG plans for every minute together (tomorrow we are going to Ancient China - i.e. the bamboo grove in the Bois d'Amour) - tonight was lion taming and reading books and narrating a safari and a warm and hearty meal all together around the table. I'm so honored by these adventurers' visit - and rejoiced in the opportunity to start sharing beautiful Brittany with others! Bon Appetit and G'night!

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