Snow, snow go away…… We are still getting light falls of snow but not enough to be disruptive. It was most spectacular yesterday as we set off in the sunshine to go to Cluny, and halfway there it was a whiteout. When we got home the sun was out again and the new snow on the hills looked most picturesque against the bright blue of the sky.
The village in winter is more active socially than in the summer when everyone is busy in the vineyards, with their gîte visitors and in the potager. The hub of activity is the Foyer Rural. This week we were treated to a talk about wolves in Burgundy given by the author Gilles Platret. He explained that wolves were living in this region until the mid 1950s. Some time ago an inhabitant of Cortambert was eaten by a wolf, and they were prolific scavengers during the war. You can be sure that we all looked around carefully when we went out into the darkness to go home.
To ex-townies like us many of the everyday country occupations are fascinating. On Saturdays we have started to attend a workshop where we are making wicker baskets. Most people use them for shopping at the Saturday market in Cluny. They are used for picking fruit and storing just about anything and come in all shapes and sizes. We are making the smallish rounded one particular to this region.
So we watched enthralled when Robert, the local vineyard owner, showed us how to strip lengths of willow and grade them for size. For the weaving of the basket the willow is split three ways to make it thinner and more pliable. These strips are also used for tying up the vines. We appreciated how expertly he worked when he showed us how to bend lengths around a form, cut them to size and anchor them with pegs and bits of bicycle inner tube. These will become the basis of the handle and the bottom of the basket. Our efforts are now drying by the stove to be ready for the basket making next week.
The last couple of weeks we’ve been without internet or phone as we decided to change our internet provider. During this time Chris has taken the opportunity to redesign this news site so we can illustrate the goings on I describe with photos. So hopefully next time I post it’ll be easier to see what I’m talking about.
We started the week unable to leave the village as the snow was too deep and the roads impassable. But as the week has gone on the temperatures have risen above freezing and the snow has gradually disappeared. Today has been the first day when the sun has been out all day and it has been very pleasant to work outside.
The good weather has made us want to see a bit more of France so tomorrow we are heading towards Switzerland to Annecy. Annecy is in the north of the French Alps and is called the Venice of Savoie. The medieval town centre, built around a 14th Century Chateau, is dissected by small canals and streams running out of Lake Annecy.
We are hoping for some good views of the snow covered mountains. Is it too early to be thinking of making next year’s Christmas cards?
Galettes des Rois
They say that time goes by quickly when one gets older but Christmas and New Year have been and gone and we are already well into January with hardly a pause for breath.
Christmas was good, our first Christmas in France with the family and our little granddaughter. A worrying time though, first with the proposed BA strikes and then the cancellation of flights due to the snow in Britain. All went well until my daughter and the baby returned via Heathrow last Thursday and found the flights to Scotland cancelled. After many hours of chaos they managed to get on a bus to Glasgow. She described it as ‘fighting your way out of a refugee camp’.
It is the first time for many years that there has been a hard winter in Britain. There must be a whole generation of young people who have not experienced the difficulties of travelling when conditions are bad.
Here we have just had a good fall of snow but we are content to remain in the village for the duration. We are lucky that we do not have to be anywhere.
Today the whole commune were invited by the pompiers (firemen) to meet together to share the Galette des Rois. This event is held around Epiphany when the three kings were traditionally added to the crib. The galette is a puff pastry case filled with frangipane (almond paste). Hidden inside is a fève (lucky charm) which used to be a dried bean. Whoever finds the fève inside their slice of galette wears a crown and becomes the king or queen for the day. Nowadays the fèves are little china figures that are highly collectible. Despite the snow the majority of inhabitants of the commune turned out for the event and it was a good occasion for us to get to know our incredibly kind neighbours a little better.