This morning, when I was driving in town, I saw a small group of children wearing Halloween costumes. A little one had a lovely ghost hat but was more interested in the lollypop he had in hand than by Halloween.
Last year I thought the celebration of Halloween was diminishing. This year, I would say it is different. I saw a few costumes, a few sweets at the supermarket and a bit more at the hard discount shop but much more advertisement for food than usually. Plenty of recipes with pumpkins are given, cupcakes recipes are shown and explained with ghosts, black cats, bats, pumpkin shapes...
As children are on holiday till Monday, there are also drawings or activities for Halloween which are proposed to parents.
All this let me think that what is organized this year is more "serious" than a few years ago. People spend money but don't waste it. They eat what they cook with Halloween ingredients, keep the children busy with painting, drawing, but don't buy expensive things which would only be used on one day only.
On Saturday I met a witch who explained about her knowledge of plants and how to use them and also a woman who explained how to recognize plants and berries in woods. Halloween is not very far and some people are getting ready.
I stood in front of the witch when she was showing children how to cook plants, asking them what could happen if spells were used. All the little ones were really interested. And when she said "Do you think there is a bad spirit near us ? This person could be changed into a toad !" They all turned their heads checking adult faces. We, adults, were relieved we were still standing on two legs.
Then I walked a bit further and checked what was on sale at the échoppe de la sorcière (witch stall). I saw elder flower jam called "fairy tree jam" as fairies live in this tree, nettles jelly, lavender syrup, rose hip jelly by the witch of rose bush and others I have forgotten. I chose a few to enjoy during this winter. All these potions seem really good.
In the morning, children had prepared a chocolate fondant with "toad drool". I didn't see it but adults said they were as enthusiastic as in the afternoon. Halloween starts little by little in the area. (And the last Harry Potter film was on television yesterday evening, this helps too)
Each year Science Days are organized in October in France with a lot of different events. Two weeks ago the Maison du Sel in Haraucourt put fossils on display, most of them found in the local ground and lent by a farmer of the village. Posters showed when these fossils have lived and when they disappeared. A paleontologist explained how to search and work to find fossils and it was possible to "train" in a special square built for this occasion.
A few days before these Science Days my husband brought back home something he called "a fossil". As it had a bullet shape, I told him it certainly was a bullet dated WW1. There are a lot of commemorative events at the moment, our minds are often thinking about it. I cleaned the bullet-shaped thing, tried to check if it was metal but it really seemed to be stone.
And, by walking around in the Maison du Sel, I discovered "our fossil".It is called belemnite, it lived 65 million years ago and was quite similar to a squid. The one we have is small, about 3 centimeters long. There was one on display which was about 30 centimeters long. We are used to find a lot of fossils with a snail shape but this one is not so common.
When I was young we used to find ammonites from time to time, much bigger than these snails; Maybe one day we'll find a dinosaur, who knows ? And this makes us remind that Lorraine was a big sea when dinosaurs lived. It is difficult to imagine, isn't it ?
If I had any doubt about autumn in Lorraine, I am now sure it started on time as far as mushrooms are concerned. Temperatures are really mild (18°C-20°C) and it rains quite often, so mushrooms love this weather.
Yesterday my husband went with a friend to check ways to carry cut wood out of the forest and they walked in a meadow. They bumped into mushrooms all the way so decided to pick some.
These ones are called rose des prés in French (meadow mushroom in English, same meaning). They are very common, and numerous if the weather is good. Half of the box is now cooked and ready to be frozen. There are a few other sorts to be found in meadows. And there are even more in woods, but my family doesn't know these ones very well so we don't dare picking them.
This is one of the good points of life in the country.
Now I'd better go back to my kitchen and deal with the other half of the box.
The new conference center of Nancy, called Centre de Congrès Prouvé, opened last summer. In 2007, several architects were asked to propose a draft for the construction of this new building where the former mail distribution center used to be, just near the station.
The mail distribution center was imagined by Claude Prouvé and built between 1969 and 1972 and some parts of it had to be kept. This made the design of the new conference center more difficult as the old building was fragile.
From the outside, the look is not too bad, fitting with the buildings of this new heart of Nancy. I haven't had the opportunity to go inside till now, but what I have seen on internet shows a big space.
The old conference center was at the end of the same street. The new one is just outside the train station. You don't even cross a street. The main bus lines arrive there and there are big parking places underground. I just hope that we'll hear more about it, as the old place was nearly forgotten by a lot of people. I have read there was a big meeting last week end about tattoos and the information was given around quite early. If the other events are given the same attention, this new conference center is a good idea.