When I was a child, there were horses in farms. They were still working in fields where machines could not go easily. Then all horses were replaced by modern machines.
Nowadays draught horses are back. They work again in places where machiches, which are bigger and bigger, can't go.
The two Ardennais horses we saw in Marbache a few weeks ago work in woods. They usually stay together pulling trunks or wood. Their owner explained that sometimes the space is so narrow between trees that he works with one horse only. It takes him two months to clean a place when a tractor needs two weeks only, but horses can go everywhere.
Horses are back in our life. In Lorraine, some carry pupils to school, others collect bins and, of course, some take tourists round towns. It is pleasant to see them (not so pleasant to follow them when you are driving) and even relaxing to watch them walking calmly.
People who wanted to buy pumpkins today went to Lunéville. As usual, for the 24th time, the Société d'Horticulture organized the sales of cucurbitaceae plants (pumpkins, butternuts, red kuri squash, ...). The crop was not as good as last year but interesting. Most vegetables were smaller but with beautiful colours. There were also colocynth plants to keep in the house, some were decorated, painted and sold in a special room inside.
After this day has happened, we know it is definitely fall time. Last year there were explanations to make soups, that made us feel winter was not so far. This time specialists explained how to make jams. This was a good idea too.
I didn't stop near jams and honey (too tempting), but was interested by old garden tools on display and by a trap to catch slugs. In the end I bought two. As this trap won a Concours Lépine prize a few years ago, I really hope it works. Our lettuce should thank us for this.
I finished my visit by going in the castle and to the tourist office. It was the right time for me to get information about events happening in the coming months.
Celebration of liberation is going on in Lorraine. Day after day we can read articles in the local paper about villages organizing ceremonies about the liberation of 1944.
In Arracourt, the US 4th Armored Division had to fight 10 days to get rid of the German 5th Panzer Army, from the 18th to the 29th of September.
German tanks were more numerous than American tanks, and because of the fog in the evening of the 18th of September the US planes couldn't help. In spite of this, American troops with Major General John S. Wood won the battle.
The tank battle of Arracourt is not mentioned in books most of the time, but here it is considered as important. One can't ignore a ten-day fight.
I met an American soldier about 30 years ago, he had fought in this area and was coming back to meet the farmers who let him sleep in their barn. Scotty was so happy to be back, he was speaking more about the French way of life in 1944 than about the battles. He knew he wasn't forgotten.
Next year we'll celebrate the beginning of WW1 in 1914. August-September 1914 and September 1944, two important times in the region.
It is quite unusual to see a whole region in a shop window. We found it in Eguisheim in August.
Storks are part of the region and you see them flying above your heads in lots of places nowadays. You also find them in shops, small and big. They are everywhere on postcards, to put on shelves, and even as soft toys which sometimes you can put on your head ! (Don't forget storks bring babies in Alsace.)
There are two other birds to remember : the goose to make foie gras and the rooster cooked in Alsatian wine.
Of couse, you cook in pottery made in Alsace. Tins, dishes, terrines are red, blue, or even green or yellow with nearly always the same traditional patterns.
If you eat, you must drink. So you need the typical glasses with a green stem.
And you shouldn't forget the shape of Christmas biscuits by looking at hearts and small characters.
In the end, Alsace wouldn't be Alsace without the traditional costume, the one for women with the big headdress.
I wish I would find the same shop window but for Lorraine. This is such a good idea and people stop in front of it and comment what they see "Look, the storks, the costumes, ..." Here they would say "Look, bergamotes, place Stanislas, ..." All the information about a region in a small space.
When we were in Eguisheim, we saw a woman selling jam at a corner of a street. I make my own jam with our fruit or local fruit, but sometimes I like buying sorts I don't know.
So we stopped near the long table and had a look. We discovered the usual jams (strawberry, raspberry, ...), the exotic (mango, pineapple, ...), the "wild" (wild rose) and there were a few jars with a label saying Les Trois P ! (The three P).
In between the husband of the jam saleswoman was helping her putting more jars on the table.
I asked "What are these three P ?" She invited us to guess.
Prune ? (Plum). Yes. This one was easy, it was nearly the time to pick them.
Pomme ? (Apple) Yes. By trying to find fruit starting with P, pomme is the first which comes to my mind.
Poire ? (Pear) No. No pear.
And there we were stuck. I couldn't find any exotic fruit in French starting with P and she said there were local fruit in the jam.
And suddenly her husband said : "Panane !" (Panana !) We looked at him, saw he was smiling, and we understood he was joking. An Alsatian man imitating the Alsatian accent ! I wouldn't have tried doing this, in front of them. This was a real good time, we had a good laugh. It was so pleasant to see a man laughing at his own accent, trying to make us enjoy our afternoon.
After a while, his wife said a loud : "No !"
The answer came to our mind : pêche (peach). Yes ! And even pêche de vignes, peach you find in vineyards, with a real different taste, stronger.
Now you've got the answer : prune, pomme, pêche de vignes. The three P. And an idea of the Alsatian accent.
(We haven't tasted this jam yet, but I'm sure it is a good one)