Fiona Alderman: The Autumn leaves of France, 2015
The weather has turned now and it’s nearing the end of October when the clear light is glowing on the falling leaves. I was remembering a song called “The Autumn Leaves “ a jazz classic that I have always loved and which was my grandmother and also my parents’ favourite. I listened to it sung by Nat King Cole and it was also done by Frank Sinatra. However, the French version is a beautiful one, sung by Yves Montand. It is called “les feuilles mortes” literally the dead leaves , not quite so poetic ? He sings it very slowly and with great Gallic passion lamenting the loss of someone. This someone was allegedly Marilyn Monroe. When he, and his then wife, the legendary French actress Simone Signoret, went to Hollywood for him to film The Millionairess, he met and fell for Marilyn. Not many men could resist her. His wife knew about it but she loved him so much she was prepared to wait for him to return, which he finally did. Theirs was a tempestuous marriage that lasted until her death even though he had many affairs, they still remained married. I listened to many French singers when I was growing up, like Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg and Gilbert Becaud. I didn’t then understand French so well but somehow understood the soul and passions within.
The lyrics of this song are poignant in French. “C’est une chanson, que nous rassemble. Toi tu m’aimais, moi je t’aimais. je t’aimais tant, tu étais si jolie comment veux tu je t’oublie? The language of love.Is French.
Bories of Dordogne
The word “borie” is an old word coming from the langue des pays d’oc, Catalan, meaning farm. These are small stone buildings, found mainly in the Dordogne, and are rather curious in shape. With unique architecture, intricate in its form and with a regular vaulted ceiling, the stones are interwoven in such a way that they will not fall down. Reminiscent of walls I have also seen here that are like our Scottish drystone dykes. These buildings were used for many purposes; as a temporary resting place for the farmer or the shepherd with his flock of sheep or even for the chickens. I heard they could even be used to keep bottles of wine cool, but I am not so sure?
They were also dwellings for the villagers, seasonal workers in the fields and for travelling people. Providing basic accomodation but with a sound weatherproof structure, this must have been a real boon.
Near here there is a village of Bories at Gordes that has been renovated into an open air museum. It was abandoned at the end of the 19th century and was bought privately to be restored. It is now a historic monument. Reminds me of St Kilda?
One year later
Where does the time go? These “little” cats were born on the 18th October 2014.They are now bigger than their mummy! I call them les monstres i.e. the monster cats.They are delightful and are such company. They are all very individual and have their own personalities. Mummy, called Mo who is 14 years old, and who had a hysterectomy a few months ago, seems to have a new lease of life with them that she didn’t have with her last litter. One of them, called “Toerag” is her favourite and they are often curled up together. She grooms him and he tries to get at her tummy for milk. No way, but she lets him snuggle in anyway.
There are three males all the same golden colour, triplets, and we love to watch them play.. Barry managed to” capture” them whilst they were eating, as it is often impossible to get a photo of them all at the same time. Intelligent, regal, curious, graceful, amusing and loving. Joyeux Anniversaire, les monstres!
I misnamed the last article as October when it was in fact September. This one is October 2015. Fifi’s story from rural France.
Dance and film courses in SW France.
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