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Posts tagged ‘Haute Loire’

Every time a bell rings an Angel gets his wings

In villages all over the world bells mark time.  They mark the hours, often the half hours and even the quarter hours through the day and sometimes throughout the night.  They call to prayer, they toll for the dead, they ring out joyously the news that two people are wed.  They sound their eccastic pleasure on Christmas morning and in France they are silent from Good Friday til they sound sonorously, building slowly, softly, increasingly exuberantly on Easter Sunday. After they have flown to Rome to be blessed and have dropped their goodies for the worthy on their flight home, of course.   Here in my village we have eight-til-late bells tolling out the hours and giving a single bong for the half hour.  I rather think I know their secret – shhh, don’t tell but … they are mechanised.  However a human person, possibly the Priest himself rings the bells for Mass.  He’s a dashing figure who wears his Catholic robes with a panache that the kings of couture would applaud on the catwalk.  He is also quite clearly tone deaf and devoid of any rhythmn.  A far cry from the rehearsed peels of my village church in England.  That was melodious this is frankly cacophonous.

Church bells to me are the soundtrack of ordinary life.  They mark out that rhythm that man has lived to for centuries.  It matters not whether you are part of the Church. It matters not, indeed whether you have any religious faith.  The bells provide the backdrop to life itself.

My birthday is at the end of September.  My youngest daughter came to stay for a week and wanted to take me for lunch.  Her treat.  This is a HUGE deal when the daughter in question is a student.  We drove to Brioude.  Its a town I have wanted to explore for a long while, just over the border in the Haute Loire (also part of the Auvergne Region).  We had very delicious lunch and then walked in the rather insistent mizzle that marked my birthday out from the WHOLE of the rest of the sunshiney month.  We heard the bells of the Basillica and we knew instantly from their sober tone that they were marking a funeral.  No-one needed to tell us to be quiet as we passed the building, the bells did it for us.  And somehow, those bells wrapped us for a moment in the huddled sadness of the group waiting to greet their loss for the last time.  Brought us to a halt, illicited respect.  Yes, bells are the soundtrack to ordinary life and that soundtrack is played in simple notes that mortals simply recognise and divine.

These bells are in Sainte-Anastasie in the Cezallier Cantallien.  They sit in a fine clocher-peigne which for non French speakers translates as a ‘bell comb’.  It describes perfectly the open structure that prettily suspends the bells rather using than a tower to house them.

DSCF4013PS:  Zuzu, George Bailey’s ‘little ginger snap’ is quoted in the title … at the end of the magic that is Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ squeezed tight by her daddy whose Guardian Angel (second class), Clarence has literally been his salvation she tells him this fact.   Her teacher told her so ….

Screenshot 2015-10-17 11.27.45

This piece was originally written two years ago, in response to The Daily Press weekly photo challenge (Extra)Ordinary – all other entries are here

Bows and flows of Angels hair ….

DSCF1248The weather recently has been a roller-coaster so it was no surprise that driving to Grenoble yesterday, setting off before dawn that it was in fog reminiscent of a threadbare coat … thick in places, worn so thin that you can almost see through it in others.  Headlights are difficult in such conditions … the light bounces back at you if they are lifted but doesn’t give much help when dipped and other peoples, particularly the lorries that are sharing the road at that silly hour of the morning are distracting and tiring on eyes that are still struggling to come to terms with working efficiently when they should still be shut in slumber.  The drive winds perpetually and scales up and down the steep gorges.  I won’t deny that I was ragged when we got to Polignac, and my reward felt just … the fortress sitting on its rocky table rising out of the feather mattress of softest white clouds below it was spectacular.  I thought of Joni Mitchell as she looked at clouds from up and down and wondered if she had ever seen this ice-cream castle in the air.  She should.  It is heavenly.   Reward, by the way, is the title of the Daily Press photo challenge this week … you can see all the other interpretations here

PS:  It’s a standing joke between HB² and I that whenever I take the wheel on a long journey the weather conspires against me.  Two Brains drove the second half of the journey down in bright sunshine and on the way back last night the sky was clear.  Until Brioude when we swapped and the fog engulfed me and only lifted for the sky to spit hail-stones that bounced on the road like a shower of polystyrene balls.