It is 50 years since the death of our famous local artist, Johé Gormand of Toury. See this previous blog.
And every year at the midsummer solstice when the moon is full we go for the Balade des Lucioles. Every year there are surprises. There is no limit to the imagination and artistry of the organisers.
Pascale and Jean-Louis in their wedding hats
As a theme this year Pascale took one of the stories written by Johé Gormand. On meeting outside the Foyer we acted out the scenario of a wedding of a couple from two well to do Cortambert families.
There was a dance in the barn, the only musician being a tiny accordianist, nicknamed le Niallé, who made up for his lack of stature by his enthusiasm. When midnight struck the couple slipped away and the guests went round the houses searching for them.
Back in the barn little le Niallé was plied with the best Chardonnay by the uncle of the bride and became even more witty and animated. But he’d made two promises to his wife, Françoise – to not get drunk and to be home before morning. The first broken promise led to the breaking of the second.
When the wedding guests had departed Le Niallé set off home. He walked through Varanges before taking the path through the woods towards Cluny.
At this point we drove off in procession towards Cluny until we reached the Bois de la Cotte. We continued on foot, descending the hill towards the voie verte. By this time night had fallen and the people threading their way along the woodland paths with their torches looked like a line of fireflies.
Deep in the woods le Naillé was so drunk he began to hallucinate, walking into a tree which enraged him. But suddenly he froze in terror as he heard the howling of wolves. Despite his drunkeness le Niallé managed to climb a small oak from where he could look down into the red glowing eyes of the five wolves who were clawing at his puny tree. He tried appealing to the wolves to leave him alone, telling them that Françoise would beat him and he’d hurt for 8 days. This had no effect so he resorted to throwing a branch into the midst of the wolves who ran off.
We too heard the sound of wolves and in the darkness we saw the luminous shapes of five voracious wolves….
Next morning le Niallé awoke to find his clothes were in tatters and he had lost the seat of his trousers. Luckily the local policeman came by and le Niallé implored him to go and plead his case with Françoise and to fetch him some clothes.
We walked on through the woods and up the path back to the Cluny road.
Le Niallé did not dare to play for any more weddings but soon regained his spirits by playing his accordian for his friends.
From Johé Gormand’s “Les loups et le Niallé” April 1928
Back at the Foyer we found a wedding feast. So here we raised our glasses to the unfortunate le Niallé and celebrated the Cortambert marriage by sending up a Chinese lantern.
Thanks to everyone whose hard work made this evening’s balade so enjoyable. I’m sure Johé Gormand would have been pleased.