And so it was they held the annual Téléthon here in the village this week. This is a national charity event , and in the small villages volunteers don matching yellow windbreakers and funny hats and march around to all the residents in the commune to collect for benevolent causes. Since it’s illegal to knock on doors and ask for money in France, they offer bags of cookies, which we all help make.
Then there is the float, which leads the parade of door-knockers. Normally it’s a homemade paper maché affair, perched on a trailer and pulled by a tractor on loan from a farmer. We had a giant witch one year, and last year it was a misshapen green dragon, which nevertheless had a kind of lumpy charm.
But this year, an even bolder theme: A viking ship! The head of the social committee asked our Dutch neighbor Gerard to help the committee build it. Sure, Gerard said, we’ll need some rebar for the structure, we can make it in a flash. Mais non--someone had donated a load of bamboo, so the plan was to tie the bamboo together to make the boat.
“But it will wobble if there’s no structural support,” he protested, “and the ties for all that bamboo will cost a fortune!” But the French are not happy to take advice, nor to waste a chance to recycle something free. Gerard’s predictions came true, however, and in the end they had to insert some boards to keep the listing bateau afloat, so to speak. By this time the crew was too exhausted with the project to add the chicken wire and paper maché, so they wrapped the whole bamboo boat skeleton in plastic shrink-wrap, which they then, inexplicably, painted pink.
I have a tradition of serving breakfast to the dragon-slayers, or vikings as the case may be, and this year they arrived with viking hats sporting some serious looking horns, though their chapeaux had a tendency to slip down over their faces at a drunken tilt. After being fortified with coffee and muffins, the sailors were off to conquer the seas. All for a good cause, and good fun too.
I wish all of you good fun and happiness as well, over the holidays. Joyueses fêtes!
In the COMMENTS: Lots of folks seem to be using iPads/iPhones as their camera, as Gordon suggested in his guest post, including Mariella, and Katie of the blog French Cravings. Debbie, thanks for the nice comments, and Mickey, you're never too old to 'snap'!
Favorite Reads: BIG book news this week. My lovely step-daughter Kelly Watts has published a book! It's an exciting adventure story, and a true one: She and her husband Paul set out to sail around the world (with no sailing experience, mind you), and ended up adopting a 2-month old baby on a Pacific island, half-way there. If you've ever had a dream, you'll want to read this lively tale of how they made their dream real. It's called 'Sailing to Jessica' and it's available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format (if you load it onto an iPad, you'll get lots of photos/maps of their journey. The print book has links to her website with photos and more). It's also available on Nook or at itunes. Visit her website for a preview.