The official time to pick mirabelles started this week. They are about three weeks late but never mind they are so good that it was worth waiting.
I am still surprised when I meet somebody who tells me "I don't know what you are speaking about. What is a mirabelle ?" I forget that most of mirabelle trees in France are in Lorraine. I find it strange to have to explain it is a sort of yellow plum with a taste you can't compare with anything.
Once you have tasted mirabelle pies or mirabelle jam, you can't forget it. And some people would say that it is the same with eau-de-vie de mirabelle, but be careful it is too strong if you have to drive.
When I was a child we used to stand under the tree when adults shook it to get the fruit and pick them. I still remember all the mirabelles falling on my head and shoulders and the good laugh we had. And then all the ones we put in the barrel to fill it before going to the home distiller in the next village a few weeks later. Old men used to have a small glass of mirabelle before going to work or after our Sunday meal. Women tasted it by dipping a sugar lump in their husband's glass, we call it "un canard" (Don't ask me why we call it "a duck", I don't know).
A long time ago I tasted mirabelles on the French Riviera. The owner of the tree was so proud to offer me several. I didn't dare telling him they were not good, no taste, maybe they had a lot of sun to ripen but the ground is not the same, winters are not the same. It makes the whole difference.
Mirabelles are good in Lorraine only, of course.
When you drive up the road to Lutzelbourg castle you notice a fountain on the left side of the road under trees and surrounded by ferns. It is not uncommon to discover a fountain out of a village but this time there is a plaque with a text, not only a name or a date.
By driving down the road a few weeks ago I decided to take a photo as Cousin Kay had mentioned in France we seemed to have quite a few fountains around (it is really true once you are in the Vosges mountains, and they still work, they are not only decorated with flowers). And when I arrived near the fountain, I saw the name : Fontaine Trierweiler !
Since the last elections in France this family name is linked to our presidential couple. So I was surprised to see it. But it has nothing to do with Mrs Trierweiler (well, maybe the man was one of her cousins I have read somewhere later).
The text on the plaque says : This fountain used to bring water to the station of Lutzelbourg when steam train was going there. It was restored and dedicated in 1995 to Raymond Trierweiler, president of the Club Vosgien of Phalsbourg-Lutzelbourg from 1965 to 1993".
The time of steam trains is not so far after all. There is still one in Abreschviller which is very successful. And now I feel like knowing how people brought water to the train in areas where there was no river near the station. I don't remember seeing any photo or painting with water tanks like the ones in the USA. So where did French stations keep their water before getting tap water ?
In summer, before gates of the castle of Lunéville close, you can enjoy the Théâtre d'Eau on the biggest pond at the end of the park.
The most convenient way to get there is to arrive at the back of the castle and then there is only a two-minute walk to be near the pond.
Before the show starts, a soft music and blue lights in the fountain entertain people. Then lighting effects working with the rhythm of the music and, of course, water jets going higher and higher make the show.
Modern music, classical music go on for half an hour. Water goes high, sprays around, changes colour. Summer Nights is followed by O Sole Mio, with a waltz in between. And water jets go high, quickly, slowly, stop, turn...
When we were there, about two hundred people were admiring the show too. Everybody applauded at the end and regretted that it was too short. With the castle in the background it was a very pleasant evening.
Wild boars and roe deers are common on our roads in the countryside. Last year or the year before, I remember reading an article about the number of accidents in France because of game. Lorraine was among the first regions concerned by the problem. It costs insurances a lot but drivers are also concerned as some contracts don't include the risk.
Wild boars are a nuisance in some fields because of what they eat and what they damage, but now they even go in gardens and plough everything looking for food. Hunters kill quite a few but there are more and more animals.
When I read Barbara's comment about mirabelles and wild boars last week, I first thought the problem with game is not new. Barbara used to live in Lorraine quite a few years ago. And I immediately thought about the photo I took last week in Lafrimbolle in Moselle.
The sign is hanging on the gate of the cemetery : "Be careful because of wild boars and others, keep the door shut. The mayor." As you see, wild boars are everywhere and you'd better not meet them as they are not really friendly.
" In 4050 no white storks are living in Lindre-Basse. They have moved north for a while to find cooler temperatures. Factories making plastic have come as they needed so much water for their production. But now the pond is so polluted that they have gone to another place leaving all their waste and creating a contaminated area.
Black storks have replaced white storks but they could not find food around the pond any more. They have come nearer from the factories and have been caught in waste of plastic.
No life is left in and around the pond."
This story is written near the pond, near the wood sculptures of black storks. The authors want to make people realize how pollution can be bad for such a place.
Lindre-Basse is a protected area, so reading such a story seems surrealist when you enjoy walking there surrounded by calm waters, grass, trees and plenty of birds and fish.
Let's hope nothing like it will ever happen.