Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laying Low on Ascension Day

The most shocking part of Ascension for me is not the metaphysics of Christ's unassisted ascent into Heaven, but rather the realization that it's been 40 days since His Resurrection. !!! How can time be flying by so very fast? The Easter Egg Hunt at the castle (and Iris's memorable commentary) seem like just days ago. And yet here we are in mid-May, with Pentecost to look forward to (we're going to give the Machines de l'Île in Nantes another try - the Big Storm stopped us last time). So today, we just took it easy: watching The Three Musketeers on television (my favorite moment: Oliver exploding with laughter when Portos says "J'aime mon métier" ("I love my job") after trouncing a passel of Richelieu's men - he didn't even blink at the French, just got the joke!) for the morning. Mac had been wanting to take a walk on some of the paths around Rochefort-en-Terre, and so packed a picnic lunch and took off. The unbelievably beautiful shot above is from his walk. The man takes such gorgeous photographs - it's a crime that I have the camera so much of the time. The pictures that follow are from Mac's walk - it makes me smile to think, faithful reader, that you'll have no hard time at all picturing me and the kids at the lists, with the Oust placidly (mirror-like!) today flowing at our feet, and dozens of passers-by passing by on bikes, foot, and even horses. :-)

Here is the entrance to the little town of Rochefort-en-Terre. Mac had his picnic on a bench to the right of the photo, and admired the hills up above the town (Brittany hides its hills so well - they really do crop up unexpectedly - old, old land here). There was a bike rally, as you can see from the group gathered there. I have a Small Observation (not even an Insight) - if Easter is the start of the museum season (castles and museums and site are generally open from Easter to Toussaint - All Saints Day - Nov. 1), Ascension is the start of festivals and group events. There were lots and lots of bike groups out today, Josselin itself has a Theater Festival going on right now (Mac went to a play tonight - monsieur Fancy Pants - and understood everything: Bravo, Mac!), and, ah yes, the Fête de la Bretagne is kicking off tomorrow.

The Fête de la Bretagne - I must take a wee pause from Mac's ambulations to fill you in on this astounding event/endeavor. Even 20 seconds of this video will give you a sense of the exuberance and reach of this party - the whole world is going to Breizh Up!

Things I've learned in the process of trying to know more about this international celebration of All Things Breton: 1) like the Irish the world over celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, so, too, the Bretons are starting to celebrate Saint Yves's Day, which, happy coincidence, is May 19, Eleanor's birthday! 2) Brittany is one of six celtic nations (the 6th is the Isle of Mann, if you're trying to list them off!). 3) The Breton Flag Trip Tour is way cool - watch out, Marvin's of Greencastle! 4) The Fête de la Bretagne was begun in 1997 in Nantes itself - Anne de Bretagne would be proud! The media coverage on this festival is quite extensive, and we're trying to figure out which part of it to join up in - there are lots and lots of late-night concerts and fest-noz (starting at 9 p.m. - one in Josselin next week) - we'll see what we get our courage up for. It's unclear to me why Yves became a saint (he's so late: 1253-1303), but it happened quickly: he was canonized in 1347. The short Catholic Encyclopedia entry on him lists him as the patron saint of lawyers and other practical matters, but doesn't mention miracles that would have gained him his sainthood. He is listed as one who complained against the taxation of the king (always a way to be beloved by your people!). More to learn!

This is the gate-house at the castle in Rocherfort-en-Terre (all 19th-century inside, but I can't wait to see it). I don't think that it's just in photographs but I swear to you that the greens are greener, more lush, more vibrant somehow. Mac said that he enjoyed his walk - I enjoyed thinking about him out there, save but for an easel and a pipe, for all the world like a post-impressionist painter going out for a good painting. With his marvelous photographs, he is an artist, after all!

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