July 16, 2007 (finished July 23rd)
The month of July has arrived and already it is mid month. We finally have some sun after weeks of rain. It has been warm and sunny now for 5 days. One might even say it has been hot.
The first Sunday of July, Keith was riding his bike in the Vosges mountains (north east corner of France). It was a supported ride for the weekend; some 200 + km (remember that last month he was in the Alps).
Wendy, Robert and I participated in the “Rallye de Charmes” of Gevrey Chambertin. We were given a sheet with 3 photos, 2 enigmas, 3 questions, and 4 villages where we had to report to the Maitre de Jeu (Master of the Game).
Ø The 3 photos were taken in a list of 8 villages. I knew one right away; the others were not too hard. Two photos were lavoirs (what is a lavoir ?; it is village washing place. It is where one washed cloths. It is usually covered, and many have been restored). One was in Messanges where Marie Therese lives.
Ø At the Maitre de Jeu we were given 4 clues to find the final answer. This was all with in walking distance of the Maitre. As an example “walk forward to the place of the crocodiles. The “Place” was La Costa.
It took a little work… again trying to solve the puzzle in French.
When we had the answer and presented it to the Maitre de Jeu, he would give us points and then got a clue for the Grand final enigma.
If you solved the puzzle you were asked an additional 2 questions, and for each correct response, another clue for the Grand Enigma and more points.
We solved our puzzles in the 4 villages and only missed one question. Hey, these were even French history questions to do with the particular village we were in at the time. The questions were always multiple choice. But do you know what other city Henry IV sacked after Curtil Vergy?? This is the one we missed by the way.
Ø The 3 questions were not that hard, I had looked up one on the internet. It was the name of the beer from Fenay. So we had that done too.
Ø Then all the little clues that we were given needed to be laid out and the puzzle solved. We had accumulated 11 of the twelve. Wendy worked on this while Robert and I worked on the last village problem. Since all the teams appeared to be running late, the Master of this all helped the teams put the clues in order (whew). Saved Wendy lots of time. We got back and solved this final enigma.
Ø The other 2 engimas, we took a stab at, but missed. The only windmill that I knew of was in the village of Brochon, but there is one in Messanges too. I am only there a couple times each month and I never knew (clue was Don Quixote).
We started at 10am, had lunch here in Gevrey (only 1 hour), and worked until 4:30pm (quitting time for the game). Our team came in second place. We won a dinner for 2 at Salon la Rue Chateau. It really was a fun day. And we were the foreigners. OK, we did not get the 2 enigmas correct, but you had to really know some nuances in French to get these. But second place is not bad.
Last week, we had a Sunday lunch with our American friends, Wendy and Robert. They also invited Reine (Reine in french is queen). Reine is 71 years old and soon to be 72. She is about 5 feet tall and well rounded. Her hair is black with some gray and she pulls it back in a chignon. She adores her two American boys (Keith and Robert) who help her at all times. Keith calls her “petite Reine” and she laughs, almost giggles. It was a pleasant day, so we sat on the patio and talked, ate Robert’s cuisine from the Weber Grill (yes they have Webers here, but the briquettes are pricey), and drank fine wine. We talked about food and wine (always a topic of discussion in france) and politics, flowers, birds, and life in general. Reine is never at a loss for words and provides most of the conversation. There are times, Reine slips in a bawdy comment or two; sometimes I follow, sometimes I miss the nuance. But Keith or Wendy is always at the ready to enlighten Robert or me. Time passed quickly and soon it was 7:30. How can lunch take 7 ½ hours! It is part of the culture here, and of course the slower life we now lead. It is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Now it is the Tour de France. It started July 7th this year in London. On the 12th and 13th the riders rode through parts of the Cote D’Or (a department of Burgundy). We went to Avallon on the 12th (Thursday) to watch it pass through town. We arrived early (10:30am) and I found a place that I wanted to be for photos. It was on a curve, so I thought the peleton would slow somewhat as they came around the corner. It was a very wide turn. We were behind some red and white barriers; these were only about 2 feet high. Avallon is only 39 km from Chablis. The race started in Chablis. The caravan de publicite did not come through until 12:05. So we waited. Keith strolled up and down and then back to me. Then we waited. We were not the only ones of course. Others were there and more kept arriving all the time. Then we waited. Unfortunately we did not think to bring chairs. Waited some more. About 11:30, some vans arrived selling souvenirs, of course. Keith said why buy now; wait to see what we get free. The gendarmes were there directing everything. Since it was on a curve, they tried to direct when people could cross the street. At 12:05 the caravan arrived. These are all the companies supporting the tour. They go through and toss out free gifts. We got a hat, eye glass cleaner, playing cards, key chain, misc other things. Those on the inside of the curve got bags full of loot. The publicite caravans were finished. Then we waited some more. The Tour came though at about 1:50pm!! Whoosh, and it is done. Even on the corner where they had to slow down a little, it only takes seconds for the peleton to pass. There were 3 riders out in front, but only by a few minutes. So in less than 5 minutes, the event we waited for 3 ½ hours, poof, was finished. I did get some photos, so I was happy. It is also the whole experience; the caravan, the riders, the crowd. Keith saw the Tour again on Friday. He was working on the tourist train that day at Bligny. So he went early (roads were closing at 9:30am) to help set up. Ives wanted all the engines out so the tourists could come by and see the trains. After all was in place and polished, Ives stoked the main engine (steam engine) with wet grass so it would have smoke coming out of the stack when the Tour passed (and the helicopters with cameras). There was one slight problem to this plan; the television coverage did not start until 2:30pm and the Tour passed through Bligny at 2:15pm. Not one photo of the train on TV. I tried all the stations here. This year for some reason, the coverage during the week is not starting until 2:30pm! Tant pis (too bad). Keith had a good view however and then they had a very crowded train for the tourists that afternoon.
Much of our time has been filled working on our projects. Since the rain has stopped, I have tried to work on my mosaic. My atelier is in the covered part of the patio, but when it is windy and raining, it is not a dry place to work. Keith is working on some cabinets. He is building a new cabinet for the bathroom and also working on new door fronts for the kitchen. So we both spend some time in our respective workshops.
Our garden has done well this year. Many of the plants seem to like the rain. The roses are fantastic. We have really worked at the roses, something that was so difficult in Minnesota is such a joy here. I never even cover the roses for winter. No need. Other flowers are doing well also. The lavender is great, but with the damp it is hard to decide when to cut it. I should this next week. But I also love to look at it. And the bees, we have so many different types of bees that visit our lavender. There must be some good lavender honey somewhere close. My little vegetable garden is OK. The cherry tomatoes are numerous, but I will not get many large tomatoes. The zucchini is fine (how many recipes are there for zucchini as a side dish?) and the yellow summer squash is doing well too. Have had dinners on the green beans, but I do not think I will get a squash this year. The cucumbers have just started. Should have some in 2 weeks. As for herbs, always some in my garden. This year the basil is not great, it does not appear to like rain and cool days. However I cannot believe the rosemary. It is turning into a bush. There is thyme, mint, parsley, sorrel, sage (also a bush) and lemon balm too. This last weekend we went to an exhibit in Semur-en-Auxois ( See muir-on-Oh swa – here in Burgundy the x is usually a s sound, and the last s is not pronounced). It is a very pretty city with some of the ramparts and towers still intact. They had some artists chairs displayed here and there around the city (chair made from a shopping cart, another with a Stop sign for the back….)
After we stopped to see the end of the Tour (contre la montre “time trial”) at Marie Therese and Christian’s. We ended up staying for dinner. It was a warm evening and first we had aperitifs. Her father and Andre joined us for aperitifs… crackers, chips, and Cremant (cremant sparkling wine-cheap champagne). French rarely serve cheese as an aperitif. Cheese is a course in the dinner, after the main plate. Then Marie Therese made a wonderful omelet with the chanterelles she had just picked that afternoon.(mushrooms - in French they are girolles). This is the time of year, and with the rain, they are abundant in the wood It was a delightful end to a very nice day.
Think I will stop here. Oh by the way, the pretty vineyard just beyond the backyard, the “mec” (guy) started cutting the vines with the tractor at 6:30am!!!!