What’s not to love about the sounds and smells of the country?
I love being out in the country. Even the smell of cow dung makes me feel nostalgic for more rural times. Fresh country air. I love the sound of farm animals of every stripe. I love listening to people chop wood. I love hearing church bells echoing throughout a valley.
Apparently, though, some people still believe the world revolves around them. According to this article in Atlas Obscura (I just love them!) there is an increasing trend of city dwellers vacationing in the French countryside, and bringing frivolous lawsuits with them. It’s so absurd.
“Your rooster is waking me up at dawn! This has to stop!” “Can you not ring your church bells first thing in the morning, just while I’m here? Please?” “Your cattle are stinking up the countryside!”
For heaven’s sake, when did we become so fragile? If you’re in the country, you have to expect these things. You’re not going to have a McDonalds on every corner. Your wifi connection will be spotty, at best. Mice will happen.
So now there’s a new proposition making its way through the French National Assembly that will protect the sensory heritage of the French countryside. I hope it passes. Some lawsuits are idiotic, and those complaining of the sounds and smells of the country when you’re in the freakin’ country are idiotic beyond belief.
I like the idea of a sensory heritage. There’s nothing that can bring you back to a certain place or time more than a sound or a smell. I would hate for all places to become generic as we push on to overpopulate this planet. That would be a tragic loss.
In my opinion, everyone should be woken up by a rooster at least once in their lives. It builds character. It creates memories. And it’s something to contemplate whilst eating your eggs.
An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
A lot has gone on beneath the Paris streets.
When I first visited Paris in the early 80’s, one of many things I did was visit the catacombs beneath the city. You can wander for miles down there, amongst the bones of more than 6 million people. It’s grisly, but fascinating.
I really enjoyed the adventure, right up until the moment when the power went out, and I was plunged into the most profound darkness I’d ever experienced before or since. Suddenly I felt as though the bones were, I don’t know, aware, or something. I felt outnumbered. I instantly grabbed the hand of the person closest to me. I have no idea whose hand it was. Fortunately the lights came back on about a minute later, or I might very well have lost my mind. Instead, I had a nice nervous giggle. That is one of those travel memories that stay with you for life.
So, I was quite fascinated when I came across an article entitled, The Secret History of Paris’s Catacomb Mushrooms. It discusses the fact that many of Paris’ iconic buildings were built from limestone quarried from beneath the city. A lot has gone on beneath the Paris streets indeed.
The article does discuss the well-known ossuaries down there. After several cemetery cave-ins in the late 1700’s, the bones of those Parisians were stacked in the quarries and remain there to this day. But there is even more to these catacombs than that.
It seems that they were used by members of the French Resistance to hide their activities from the Nazis, and also as a hideout for deserters from Napoleon’s armies. Quite a fascinating history. Who knows who or what is down there today.
But what is really interesting, at least to me, is that someone discovered that the Parisian mushroom thrives down there. It likes the temperature and the moist environment. Back in 1880, the article says, “more than 300 mushroom farmers worked in Parisian quarries to produce 1,000 tons of Paris mushrooms each year.”
Apparently these mushrooms were very flavorful and popular. But when they started building the Paris Metro above the quarries in 1896, most of the mushroom farmers left, because the quarries were already getting dangerous due to disrepair. Now there are no mushroom farmers under the city.
The Paris mushroom has survived, but it is mostly produced in China. One half of one percent of all Paris mushrooms are produced in France, and those are now mostly grown in an industrial setting. They don’t taste remotely as good as they once did.
What a pity. I do love a good ‘shroom. Especially one with an intriguing history.
Do you enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
Don’t forget to appreciate the now.
When I was 19 years old, I was in love for the first time, in Paris for the first time, and seeing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral for the first time. It doesn’t get much better than that. It was one of the high points of my life.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the love wasn’t going to last, but, as they say, I’d always have Paris. Some things you just assume will last forever. Some things, you think, will be as permanent as Mount Everest.
Watching Notre Dame burn broke my heart. That spire crashing down felt like it went right through me. Yes, they’ll rebuild, but it will never again be “my” Notre Dame. That’s gone.
We tend to forget that the things made by man are very impermanent. If a stretch of interstate highway was abandoned for 10 years, it would be so reclaimed by weeds and trees that it would be unrecognizable. Whole cities have disappeared with the passage of time. Buildings and bridges collapse. Towns burn. Tumbleweeds roll down what used to be main streets. Waters rise, winds blow, sand dunes encroach.
Most of us try not to think about it. It is hard, living in that state of awareness. Impermanence is scary. It reminds us of our own mortality. If Notre Dame can burn after having stood for about 800 years, then my fragile little body is toast.
But in many ways, that impermanence is actually a gift. While Notre Dame propped up my 19 year old’s sense of beauty and romance, I went on to have many other amazing experiences, and I’m sure that more are in the offing. Knowing that all these things are merely blips on the radar of the universe makes me appreciate them even more. What I am experiencing right here, right now, will be gone in a moment.
What a gift that I got to collect these memories, if even for just a cosmic second, even if they aren’t made of mountains, and will someday be reduced to dust.
Don’t forget to appreciate the now, dear reader. In the overall scheme of things, it’s really all that we have.
An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5
It must be maddening to be considered the poster child for the French Revolution.
People do love to simplify things. Complexity is, well… entirely too complex. And so here you have the average American’s concept of the French Revolution: Marie-Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake” when her people were starving, so the people revolted and they chopped off her head, thus doing away with the French Monarchy.
Here’s one of the many problems with that, though. It’s fairly certain that Marie-Antoinette never uttered that famous quote, which has become the epitome of upper class indifference.
According to this article in History.com, that quote, in similar forms, had been rattling around and placed squarely on the shoulders of various female royals for 23 years before Marie-Antoinette had been accused of saying it. In fact, it was a thing three years before she even married into the monarchy.
And according to one biographer, she was actually an intelligent woman who donated to charity and was sensitive to the poor. But will any of us remember her for that? I’m thinking no.
Okay, yes, she overdid it in terms of the lavishness of her lifestyle. But she got married and left home at age 13, and was sheltered from the world and cosseted to an unforgivable degree. Not that that justifies her behavior, but I think it explains it.
She also had the horrible luck of becoming queen at a time when the French economy was in a death spiral. To say that that was 100 percent her fault is a little much. And she came from Austria, which much of that time was France’s enemy. She also had a reputation for promiscuity, which would have been simply winked at if she were a man.
So despite her outrageous behavior at times, I honestly think her head rolled simply because she was one of “them” at a time when the “us-es” had had it up to here, and she was also a powerful, sexually active woman, and to this day that is not acceptable to a lot of people.
When I think of Marie-Antoinette, I try to think of the fact that she adopted 4 very underprivileged children. That’s pretty impressive. And she went to her death with dignity and grace, which couldn’t have been easy while being jeered at by the crowd.
So, the woman was problematic, yes, but also complex. Shades of grey, not black and white. So I say poor Marie, because it must be maddening to be considered the poster child for the French Revolution, and even more maddening to be remembered for having said something stupid that you never said.
My definition of hell would be a world without cheese.
My definition of hell would be a world without cheese. Or worse yet: a world full of cheese that I was not allowed to eat. Cheese is a gift from God, if ever there was one.
So imagine my sheer joy, my unbridled exuberance, my near-orgasmic ecstasy when I came across a cheesy tradition that I had never heard of before. And it is, without a doubt, the best cheese experience of my entire life. To wit: raclette.
Raclette comes from Switzerland and the Savoy region of France, and it is a wheel of cheese and also the meal derived therefrom. You heat the cheese and then scrape it off the wheel and onto the meal in question. But I’d be sorely tempted to just scrape it directly into my mouth if given the opportunity.
I discovered this delicacy at a local food truck, called Fire and Scrape. They prepare potatoes, or grilled vegetables, or delicious sandwiches, and then they scrape that scrumptious cheese over the top of them and serve. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than this comfort food. It was worth the long line to experience it.
And now I’m seeing that one can purchase a raclette grill on line. Of course, the cheese itself is available that way, too. I’m doomed.
And the crazy thing is, this food tradition has been around since 1291. How have I managed to live 53 years without experiencing this culinary nirvana?
To think, as a loved one pointed out, that when I was a kid I thought all cheese was medium cheddar. Poor deprived child. I weep for her.
If you ever have the chance to experience the pure heaven that is raclette, don’t hesitate. I’m telling you, your life will never be the same.
Portable gratitude. Inspiring pictures. Claim your copy of my first collection of favorite posts! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5