It used to be summer. It used to be the only season that had colour lasting longer than a week. And nights that were warm. It was the warm nights I loved the most. It was never spring. Spring was too short, in Toronto, if you blinked you would miss it. Suddenly there was no snow and blossoms appeared and then a rain storm would take them out. And summer started.
Here, spring lingers, warmth slowly creeping in and around rivers, forests, stone buildings. Like the wind, it swirls around the damp and the cold and pushes out winter, creating new space for life to grow. Fruit trees delicately began to leaf and then bloom. The rose bushes sprang to life in our yard, the jasmine began to bloom and fill the air with scent. The fields of wheat began to blow in the wind with poppies and thistles dotting the landscape. It is a feast for the senses. The light has also changed dramatically. Bright blue day time skies filled sometimes with crispy white clouds, and a coolish wind, make for sun that is hot and shade that is gorgeous. The sunrises are more confident and the sunsets have new pinks and purples that went away in the winter. It is a joy to see these changes.
This weekend there was a spring festival in our village. I think St. Chaptes either has strong ties to the manade community or they really like to drink – because we often have the abrivados in our village. This weekend there were two abrivados each day and 2 bandidos each night, and in between, very cheap aperitifs. This meant a lot of whoo hahers, (my affectionate term for drunken yellers).
The horses are simply wonderful. And while I understand the bull is the main event, I go for the horses. Their thundering hooves, extraordinary colouring and incredible work ethic make for in unbelievable display of Provencal tradition.
It all begins for bystanders to choose a spot on the street to stand. The horses and bulls are stationed at the arena, just on the outskirts of town. A bull is released from the truck and two or three riders encourage / goad the bull through a route in the village. The young men run after the bull and attempt to stop it through sheer force.
Most of the bulls this weekend had their horns blunted and wrapped in leather. This prevents goring but doesn’t really take away the physical threat that the bull possesses.
When the riders and bulls approach from down the street, the suspense quickly builds. From relative quiet, the air quickly fills with the sound of pounding of hooves on the pavement and the shouts of communication between riders and runners.
The thrill of the event is in the closeness to the animals, the suspense of waiting for the galloping horses and the unpredictable nature of the bulls. In spite of all the boozy boys, filled with adrenaline and testosterone, the thrill of danger combined with the mastery of man over nature, causes even the calmest of hearts to pound.
Easter is over and with the weather is almost consistently warm during the day, the weekly Saturday market in Uzes is in high gear. We usually go every Saturday and until recently, it had contracted (great for locals) due to the lack of local produce and tourists. Not so anymore. I am going to have to get up earlier….
I love food. And I love photographing food. Until I am tired of photographing markets, there are going to be a lot of pictures of markets……