This is the fourth time horses come to Lunéville and the second time we go to enjoy watching them.
This year there was no carriage driving but different shows in several places in the castle park.
First we discovered seven or eight carriages which accepted people free for a short trip in the park. A lot of families were standing in queues and children were really happy to come near horses and to sit near or behind coachmen. There was even a Roman warrior with a horse chariot ! We decided it was not comfortable and noticed the iron wheels.
Then, a bit further, riders were showing how good they were by standing on the back of their horses, by jumping from the ground up on the horse and vice versa, by riding back to front... a bit like in a circus. There was also a woman and a horse acting in a pond. We only saw a part of this as we were at the other end of the park when it started.
And, on the esplanade, there were more shows lasting between ten and twenty minutes. I would say they were more classical but really beautiful. Women using sidesaddles were impressing with their long dresses. Horses were obeying perfectly.
There were plenty of people in the park but, as there were attracted by one show or the other, it seemed less crowded even if it was more. It was really pleasant to see all these different shows and to walk around to discover them.
And we had a drink near the castle on the side of the esplanade, sitting on a small wall and relaxing. We met a teacher of our children and she was as pleased as we were, then a couple of friends. We all had a good afternoon among horses.
Two weddings in the same month ! The last time it happened to me was nearly 40 years ago. June is a good month to get married, both times the weather was perfect.
The ceremony was organized last Saturday with a gospel choir of about 12 people. They sang I will follow him and I couldn't help thinking about the film Sister Act. It made me smile. They finished with Oh, Happy Day which is well known by French people, at least the melody. A gospel choir is not common at a French wedding in the country so it made it different. People applauded (it would have never happened with the strict priest who was running this church 20 years ago) and took a lot of pictures. Everybody was smiling and happy.
Then the just married couple rode a Harley Davidson to go to the place we all had drinks. It was warm and we enjoyed chatting in the shade with friends and family.
Two weddings in June, different but both let us have a very good time, and, with the latter one, I had a new cousin. That's good news, isn't it ?
Our white cherries are ripe and I have started picking them. They are really sweet, juicy, with a good size. I leave them in a bowl in the kitchen and each member of the family can take some when he (or she) wants.
When I stopped at the bottom of the tree, I noticed straight away a problem with the leaves. They have been eaten ! At first I thought about hail, but I didn't remember we had such a strong storm in the last two weeks and cherries are still on the tree and not damaged. I didn't see any print or mark on the leaves, it can't be slugs or snails. No strange colour. I was left without any clear idea.
I had a look on different internet pages (what did we do without internet ?). Cherry leaves may have been eaten by caterpillars or a sort of weevil. I didn't see any of these, nothing on or under leaves. Obviously they haven't waited for me to arrive.
If this dry weather goes on, leaves will remain a good dish and we will have to think about saving the tree. I haven't heard starlings yet but they can't be far away, so we'd better pick the cherries which are left even if they are not supposed to be eaten by birds. They "can't see" them because they are white (well, when one is hungry, you never know what can happen). So I'd better save these cherries for our stomachs.
When you drive to Haraucourt from Varangéville or Buissoncourt, you see them a bit away from the road. Big ponds, more or less full with water depending on the season. They are not "natural" ponds but collapses due to salt extraction.
In the 1960s, there were still meadows and fields where these big holes are today. There was a small road to go to an old farm standing near the Roanne river. One day, in the 1970s, a big hole appeared nearly at the place a farmer was working the day before.
There is salt underdround, a layer which is 180 meters under our feet. Water is injected and the brine is pumped up. It is used to get salt, of course, but also to make soda and its derivatives. It started in 1904, 110 years ago.
New technology has helped to know what is underground, but collapses can still happen. The holes are not consolidated yet so it is not possible to go in this area. As it is not as dangerous as before, sometimes people can visit these protected area, take pictures and observe birds.
The landscape has changed. Where there was a small hill, the ground is flatter and you can see the next village which was not visible 50 years ago (apart from its bell tower).
Maybe, one day, we will be able to walk free in this part of the village again. At the moment, game and birds are the ones who enjoy living there.
Poppies are blooming in wheat fields at the moment, it is beautiful to look at. I can't imagine summer time without poppies.
When I was young, they were in every grains field. Then around the 1990s, they nearly disappeared. Weedkillers used by farmers got rid of them and we could only see a few near ditches. And, in the last few years, we have been discovering them again. Products killing weeds must have changed and there are more farmers who want organic crops.
Poppies were also part of the embroidery my mother used to do, and of mine too. Most of the time, we had poppies, wheat and cornflowers on a tray-cloth or table cloth. Sometimes it was cornflowers, daisies and poppies, representing France (and our colours, blue, white and red). I have also seen these plants painted on old milk cans in houses or during yard sales.
I was surprised to discover in the 1970s that poppies were linked to WW1 soldiers in England, during my first holiday there. In France cornflowers are the link to our soldiers, due to the colour of their trousers from 1915.
Now, a hundred years later, this poem will be remembered in the coming celebrations :
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place ; and in the sky
The lark, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
(John McCrae, In Flanders fields)
A fragile flower but meaning so much.