April : Tying the vine.

Between sun and april showers…

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Tick tock
year clock
vine leaf unfurls.

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Walk up the field and down
row by row, vine by vine
stopping to tie new growth.

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The old method of tying used a length of twisted willow.
The old method of tying used a length of twisted willow.

Restrained landscape.

Caste my eye o’r landscape
restrained by man, linear, vernacular
who speaks of wilderness, freedom, survival.

Is that what man is also?
restrained by man, linear, vernacular
who speaks of wilderness, freedom, survival.

If truth be known, acknowledged.

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Holy wells and churches

Water held a great significance in Celtic paganism. It was life giving, healing and came from deep within the earth. Where it sprang to the surface, was considered sacred and a place where gods and spirits ruled.

During the christian conversion of Europe, many churches were built above or beside these pagan water shrines. The water was blessed and the well christened after Catholic saints. Thus the water became holy. People could continue their ritual of visiting the wells provided they accepted and worshipped the true God. So merged the old religion with the new.

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St. Martin le Puy ( The well St. Martin ) is one such church. It was built on a rock from which a spring rises. A room was cut into the base of the rock where people could sit next to the spring. A series of water channels and pools take the water away. It is probable that christenings and baptisms took place here.

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As you enter the sanctuary of the formerly named Notre Dame de Lapujade,  you can hear the gurgling waters that fall into the Holy well beside the altar. These waters are claimed to be miraculous. History tells us that in 1150  the Virgin appeared in the valley of Lapujade to young children and instructed them that her statuette placed in the sanctuary should never be removed. For 800 years since, pilgrims have revered and prayed fervantly before Notre Dame. In 1634 the sanctuary was renamed Notre Dame de Lorette, then in 1864 a grand church was constucted over the sanctuary under the orders of Cardinal Bonnet of Bordeaux.

The practise of visiting Holy wells to take it’s waters for healing continues today.

Cottage garden hues

Hues of pink, purple and peach colour my cottage garden…

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Lilac eau d’ cologne

on lacy handkerchief

whiff of springtime breeze.

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Unfolding wings

serene peony

sings sweet tones

of angelic pink.

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Springtime punctuated

with peach tulip.

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 Wisteria waterfall

cascades of deep purple

paradise recall.

Plum Orchards : Pruneaux d’Agen

Under the first sun of April, the orchards bloom. Bees collect their flower nectar and pollination concieves the fruit called ‘Prunier d’ ente ( grafted prune ).

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A little history.

Originally grafted to a local plum by monks in the 12th century, the fruit from Syria proved perfectly adapted to the climate and much appreciated for it’s sweet, juicy taste and it’s nutritional and medicinal properties.  It dried well and was quickly established in gardens throughout the south west of France to be conserved for winter. Over time orchards  developed and it became an agricultured product. By the 17th century most of the dried  prunes grown were exported to England.

Agen was a convenient river port that was able to transport the dried prunes to Bordeaux where they were loaded onto ships and through to the 19th century the ‘ Pruneaux d’ Agen’ as they were then called became famous worldwide.

Orchards in bloom everywhere I turn, testify that the agriculture of the Pruneaux d’Agen is alive and thriving.

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A goblet of sweet nectar

the plum tree is pruned

for the birds and the bees

the plump fruit of summer.

Pont Eiffel : Eiffel bridge

 Before he became the great Monsieur Eiffel of ‘Eiffel Tower’ fame, Gustav  came this way to design a pretty little bridge that I often cross…

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Pont Eiffel, Louben is one of the last remaining bridges of it’s style in France, constructed with eight fine support arcs of ironwork and railings above. It has been rebuilt so that the ironwork no longer supports the bridge and is preserved for us to enjoy.

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In 1860

the bells ring

for a blessing

and a christening

‘Pont Eiffel’ bridge.

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Blossom time

Fruity fragrance fills the air

as snowfall of spring blossom

softly drops on fresh green foil.

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Thoughts of today.

If this were my last day, what would I do?

   Live in each moment with earnest,

Fill lungs with sweet breath abursting,

Stretch eyes yonder horizon,

And magnify the minute,

Open ears to birdsong and raindrops,

Tingle tastebuds with thyme and tangerine,

Tenderly touch love’s soft skin,

Flit through album, from infant to grandma,

of birthdays and banquets,

Heed the quiet voice that speaks of regret,

yet forgives and forgets,

Still asking those questions for meanings,

If this were your last day, tomorrow your first,

What would you do?

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Memories : Two true stories.

1914

“I was born in 1914, in Rimons. My parents worked at Monsieur Ouvrard’s mansion as domestics, and then as farm labourers, for Monsieur Bignon. The owners lived in Caumont. They had a daughter who was the same age as me. When they came to help my parents at work, I used to play with their daughter. We played with dolls.

When I was small, we used to walk to Castelmoron to buy our provisions. There we went to the grocery and the bakery. I bought my espadrilles in the grocer’s, who had everything; slippers, wool, cotton, and cheese under a cloche. Later they had a grocery in Rimons and sellers passed regularly. A baker came twice a week, a fishmonger from Castillon, and a grocer who came from Castelmoron in a van once a week.

I was married in 1933. My husband worked with his father, who was a council worker in Rimons. We lived in St. Ferme for the first year where his mother had a farm.

Later, we rented a small farm in the hamlet of Fougirard. We had a vineyard, agricultural land and pastures. We had three cows who worked and one cow for milk. In our hamlet there were five or six families who also rented farms. One man worked at the bakery in St. Ferme. Our landlord sold his farm to his cousin and so we moved to another farm. We found a good place in St. Ferme, but it was too big for me to manage when my husband went to fight in Algeria. So I returned to my parents.

When my husband was demobilised we found another farm in Galeteau. We grew wine grape, tabacco, wheat and had four cattle. We had ducks, geese and pigs. We made confit, foie gras and cooked the pigs to feed our family.

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1927

“I went to school in Rimons until I was thirteen years old, in 1927, then I worked on the land with my parents. There was only one mixed class. The teacher was called Mademoiselle Burtaut. The school was in the village. It was two and a half kilometres from my home so I walked there with clogs in winter and espadrilles in good weather. There was no canteen, so I ate with my grandparents who lived in the village. If I was ill I used to sleep at their place. At this time I helped my parents and did duties in the evening. Sometimes it was difficult so my mother would help me, my father less. He was a ‘Pupille de la Nation’ and had to start work very young. My children went to the same school as me. During the war refugees used to come to the class from time to time.”

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‘Pupille de la Nation’

Children who lost their father or parents in war, whether in battle, in resistance or as victims of war, were adopted by the Nation. It meant that the government supported them financially, in education and health. Work was offered to many in councils, from roadside to office work, thus ensuring their employment and financial security for all their lives. This status exists today and now includes non military services, as well as Jew and non Jew deported persons.

NB. Watercolour portraits by the children of Monsegur Primary School.

Thanks to Clem, ‘Temps mêlés memoire vivante’ website. I read these narrations a while ago. I was particularly interested because Rimons is where I live now. I translated to share with you.