Sunday, May 15, 2011

Merry Miettes of May

This post should have a photo. But it doesn't.

* * *

Say It With Flowers: Since this was my third May Day in Montpellier, I was prepared for the profusion of people set up all over town selling nosegays of lilies of the valley. This is a tradition here, and notable in that the vendors are, for the most part, not professionals, just people who raise a lot of the flowers for the occasion and bring them into town. It's charming, seeing most of Montpellier walking around clutching bunches of little white flowers.

What I wasn't prepared for, though, was the red roses on the 10th, even though I did something I never do and accepted a copy of one of the free newspapers being handed out at lunchtime here. I didn't remember that happening last year, and it turned out that it hadn't. The roses, the paper told me, were celebrating the 30th anniversary of the election of a Socialist government in France, since François Mitterand was elected President on that day in 1981. There were fewer red flowers than white ones the week before, but in a city as red as this one is, it probably took on a lot of significance.

But there really wasn't a photo-op attached.

* * *

Friday the 13th saw me walk out the other direction from the apartment into a bizarre scene: the fountain of the Three Graces was shrouded with a black cloth, and, in a fenced-off area, two circles of people wearing black shirts and with their mouths bound shut with strips of cloth stood facing outwards. Performance art? Sure looked like it, but then I heard the speech being given, noticed the huge placard on the ground, and realized that it was the Club de la Presse, a mysterious organization I keep meaning to look into to see if I'm eligible (probably not, not being French), staging a demonstration on behalf of two journalists from France 3 TV, Stephane Teponier and Hervé Ghesquière, who disappeared with three of their crew in Afghanistan on December 29, 2009 and haven't been seen since. It was all very dramatic, all very enigmatic (there was a plexiglas rostrum set up on the steps of the Opera House, but, although the speeches were coming in loud and clear, nobody was standing at it), and just a bit pathetic to hear some unseen Frenchwoman declaiming "President Karzai, we demand that you use the power of your office to find and free these two journalists and their companions." There you've done it, Hamid: you've pissed off the Club de la Presse de Languedoc-Roussillon!

I should have gone back to the house, grabbed my camera, and taken a picture, but I'd only nipped out to get some bread to make a sandwich, and I've been working like crazy on this book proposal, so once I got back to the house, I went straight to the kitchen, made the sandwich, grabbed a napkin in case it leaked, sat back down at the computer and got back to work.

So that's why there's no picture of that.

* * *

Then, it occurred to me, I saw a banner announcing the annual Rencontres Folkloriques on Saturday. I don't know much about the back-stories of the various dances that get done, but associations representing various traditions and occupations come into town in costumes and do dances while oboe bands wail away, so I promised myself I'd go get that. There were lots of tables set up all over the place, I noticed. One was urging you to use the services of your local notary. Another was denouncing homophobia and giving away condoms. Then I saw that a space had been blocked out by fences and a set of bleachers raised. Behind the bleachers were even more tables, mostly denouncing Israel and flying Palestinian flags. Well, I may not know much about the folkloristic traditions around here, but I do know that gay Palestinian notaries play a very small role in them, so I figured nothing was happening yet. I live so close to the Comédie, though, that I was sure to hear when something happened, because "quiet" and "folklorisitic" are opposed concepts. But it was raining on and off and there wasn't a single costume or oboe to be seen, and nothing to be heard as the day wore on.

So that's why there's no photo of that.

* * *

But I did make it to the market on Tuesday, and for the first time this year, I picked up some cherries from some guy who'd driven them in from his nearby farm. I didn't get much else of interest, just a bag of oregano and some olive oil and some asparagus and a tiny box of strawberries, so I didn't take a picture. Anyway, the cherries disappeared pretty quickly, even though they weren't all that flavorful. I suspect the huge black things that explode in your mouth are a different variety and still ripening out there on the farm.

But that's why there's no photo of that, either.

Sorry. I'll try to do better next time.


  1. Given your no-photo leitmotif, I suppose this posting should be best left as no-comment, but I'm going to go ahead and soil that.

    Mon dieu, Montpellier me manque!

    P.S. lovely post!

  2. No, no photos just makes it easier on the eyes. But I've been walking out with the camera again recently, so that won't last.


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