Perhaps now, it's time for a change of subject, and some pictures.
I did say I was going to post about the fête I went to at St Laurent, an outlying village of our local commune. Though there is not much there, it is more a true village than our hamlet: it has a centre with a chapel, though no pub, school or shops. There used to be a bar, and I think there is a lady who will do 'restauration' on request in her home - one of my neighbours once told me enthusiastically that she was preparing a 'tête de veau' for a group of the elders of 'le club' who were convening there.
The chapel is old, simple, whitewashed, light, its structure visible, which appeals to the protestant with a small 'p' in me, the protestant-to-the-core which I think perhaps many English people are, whether or not they are observantly religious or believing. (I typed British there at first, to be correct, and not offend Scottish readers, or any Welsh ones I may have, but then changed it, I think perhaps I am talking about the middle-class English...). Then it is embellished with the kind of polychrome, glittery imagery and counter-reformation decorative bits which appeal less; try as I might, they so often seem tawdry.
Although the term 'fête champêtre' is often used by the organisers of British garden parties and such like to give their events some kind of extra charm and cachet, the reality of these events here often seems to me a little, dare I say, dull. The competitive busybody busy-ness, the colour and engagement, the charitable commerciality and general plethora of outgoing activity you get at an English village fête, the raffles and tombolas and coconut shies, the produce and homemade jam, etc etc, are absent. But I've come to see these events have their own charm, and I quite like it that people here seem to be happy with less overall stimulus and action. Anyway, you can't say people here don't know how to enjoy themselves, when there's the Ploeuc-sur-Lie potato festival, as advertised by the banner, to look forward to.
So, what was going on at St Laurent?
Well, there were some tractors.
There was a wood-carver, who was carrying on the proud tradition of tawdry, polychrome graven images with this larger than human-size replica of the Statue of Liberty,
and there was what has become a regular feature of the St Laurent fête, the rope-making machine. This stretches the length of the field, and several strands of twine are strung along it,
a person winds a handle, and as the strands twist together, the platform he is standing on moves along in its runners, with him on it. I think this 'having a ride' aspect of the activity is what draws people to participate in it. Who needs the Corkscrew at Alton Towers when you can have a go on the rope-making machine at St Laurent?
it twists and twists again, like it did last summer, and the one before that, until it's made this pretty, strong length of rope,
and by the end of the day, they must have many fine coils of it.
There were some characterful dogs for Molly to bark at;
the border collie was a ball addict, who kept stealing the kickabout football the local children were entertaining themselves with and running off with it. He was finally fobbed off with a tennis ball, which he dropped at the feet of anyone who looked like they might be good for a throw.
Finally, the stars of the show this year, the special event, and why I turned out again, were the horses.
They came with a group of Breton horse enthusiasts from Guingamp, who hire them out for special occasions. When I arrived, they were having their hair done.
The end results were very smart.
If you can;t reach the stirrups, put your feet in the leathers. I remember that.
One of the most delightful groups was the elderly chap with his three horses, probably a mare, foal and yearling. He seemed to have a very loving, communicative relationship with them.
he gently pushed the people he was talking to out of the way, parted and prettified the mare's forelock, and posed happily.
'She likes me, doesn't she?' he said of his horse, beaming.
A moment later, though, he looked up, and I snapped again. It was a simply beautiful picture; his eyes were blue-green and his regard candid, limpid, direct. But it was a look that said, you are invading my privacy, and he did not return my smile. It hurt me a little to do it but I deleted the picture altogether, I had no right to it, I felt, though the one above, with his face turned away, seems acceptable, I don't know if it is.
The odd thing is, similar pictures of children looking warily into the camera in exotic locations and costumes can be seen all over the web, in books, in National Geographic and other magazines, and their difference, the anthropological interest, seems to legitimise it. Perhaps their parents sign release forms, but the essence of a good capture shot is of course a dynamic of surprise, spontaneity. I know cleverer analyses than this have been made over and over about the relationship between camera and subject.
Perhaps I'll stick with plants and animals.