Fiona Alderman’s blog: Winter Is Coming

wood fiona

When I saw my neighbour bringing in huge wooden logs – I thought this is early, non? Life in rural France has its peculiarities but this still seemed strange. However,  nothing much surprises me now after 20 years. He was hard at work with the chainsaw cutting them into smaller pieces –often very early in the morning. I did try to ask him but he was somehow distracted. I learned afterwards that he was bringing the wood in earlier because someone had already pinched his haul. He owns a wood nearby and so he has ready stocks but someone had come to steal from him.He was busy for days transporting all these logs up to his house and then cutting them up for his cellar for winter. A massive task for an 80 years old.

What has been happening elsewhere in Salignac

Unfortunately outbreaks of Covid-10 continue appearing so more attention has to be made to keep up the good work after a long confinement.  It is still not back to normal. The tourists will soon be leaving and we will see if the economy survives. Our new Mayor has encountered some problems within his team, and the tongues are wagging.

My French

I continue to improve my French with all its idiosyncrasies, from when to switch from vous to tu? A delicate business I can assure you. Normalement, as they say, normally you use vous with people you don’t know, elderly persons for respect, in work situations with seniority. Tu is for friends, for children and when a person becomes a friend and it passes from vous to tu? Who decides? Usually the French person but it is all vague to me!

However I decided recently to make the transition and it was taken very well. My lovely lady from the Chateau, Brigitte, came to me the other day to have a coffee and she spilled out some of her problems . I said on peut se tutoyer maintenant? Can we use tu?  She laughed and said of course, and it was as simple as that.

The Caves of Lascaux

(Image attribution: STUPID/public domain. Wikimedia)

The famous caves in Montignac, very near to where we live, celebrated their 80 years from their discovery on the 12th September;  a little dog called Robot rushed down a hole in a grassy hill and his master, young Marcel Ravidat, followed to rescue him. He would come back later with three friends, and lights to discover the amazing drawings on the cavern walls and ceilings. This propelled prehistoric history into the foreground and a world wide interest.

On the 21st September, Abbe Henri Breuil a noted historian visited the caves and make numerous sketches which are still used today as study material. It was open to the public from 1948,. There was huge interest in the caves and they attracted over a thousand visitors a day.  The heat , humidity and the presence of carbon dioxide became a severe problem leading to a general deterioration of the paintings. Exposure to the lighting in the enclosed spaces made it necessary to close everything down.

By 1963 they started to restore and protect the images with careful monitoring each day. There are nearly 6000 figures in total, depicting animals, humans and abstract forms. Pigments of ochre, iron oxide and some charcoal were rubbed into the walls or sprayed by a straw type system to splatter the design – quite a remarkable feat. There are now different Lascaux from 2 to 4 that are either complete replicas in exhibitions or digital remixes. Some exhibitions travel the world.
I have to say I haven’t seen the replica Lascaux 2, which is probably great but I would have liked to have seen the real one. My partner Barry had the great chance of seeing it many years ago and I will listen and wonder with him as to what he saw?

Because of Covid, the anniversary celebrations were a bit subdued but they went ahead with a procession to the original Lascaux, a walk of 4 kilometers, in the paths of their ancestors, accompanied by voice texts and explanations. The museum of prehistoric history nearby in Les Eyzies will also have a permanent exhibition of, until now, unknown objects from the Caves.  A lamp, blades, calcium deposits that has as title ‘Lascaux Hors des Murs’ (Lascaux out of the walls).

That’s it for this month . Keep safe until next time.
Fifi’s stories from rural France.
September 2020. Courses in dance and film.

Fiona Alderman Blog: Life in Rural France
Fiona Alderman's Blog: A Sunday afternoon in sleepy Salignac

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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