About three weeks ago I wrote winter was over in Lorraine. It is even more true now. Temperatures are really above average this year. For about ten days they have been going between 16°C (60° F) and 19°C (66° F) in day time. Spring is here.
Plants are either blooming or full with buds. Daffodils are blooming in the woods near the village (I thank my Sons for these beautiful bunches). Insects are back, flies and bees. Birds are singing and I even heard an owl last night. People are gardening, making spaces ready for seeds and new plants, ploughing, trimming.
Our rhubarb is showing a bit, just like red eggs going out of the ground. Chives are bright green and mint is growing. I still have to check the seeds which are left from last year and decide what to buy.
But with these beautiful sunny days we also face pollution, quite bad pollution. We are advised not to make too many efforts outside, especially people suffering from health problems. This should last till Saturday when wind is back.
Anyway we are happy and enjoy all these bright days. And we won't think about the saying "When it is sunny in March, take a coat !"
Each time we go to the Foire Grasse in Lunéville I am surprised by the quantity and sorts of saucissons secs (dried French sausages). Each year there are more.
Of course all people selling meat at the fair also sell the simple saucisson sec (pork only, without anything added). But a few stallholders sell dried French sausages only and now propose dozens of sorts. Different meat is added to pork, or herbs, cheese or even alcohol.
Last week I noticed new sausages made with kangaroo, buffalo or ostrich.
Some sorts are as good as the traditional saucisson sec. I like the ones made with game (wild boar, deer or pheasant) but also the ones made with hazelnuts or figs. Everybody can find one that he or she likes.
The offer is so good and seems (I do say, seems) so cheap that people are tempted and go back home with two pounds to six pounds of dried French sausages. Of course, they keep for a long time, but it really means a lot to eat.
For the ones who don't know saucisson sec, I can tell you that my English friend used to say it smells like old socks (no, just joking, well, not really, it can be quite strong). I would compare it with salami or chorizo.
For 597 years the day before Shrove Tuesday has been the day Lunéville organizes its fair, the Foire Grasse (Fat Fair). The first happened in 1417. People wanted to sell all their meat and eggs before Lent started. A part of this idea has been kept nowadays.
Each time, stallholders come to sell sausages, bacon, ham, cheese, onions but also clothes, handbags, toys... They were about 200 this year proposing everything to attract customers.
We walked from the main shopping street into the fair which is in the area of the castle. We decided to look on the right side only so we would check the other side on the way back. The only trick was to remember where we wanted to buy something.
My Husband started our shopping by standing in the queue to buy boudin noir (black sausage), pâté and head cheese. In between I walked to one end of the fair. There were plenty of things to look at but I was not interested enough to buy them. Then we met a friend and had a chat. We were near our point of departure when we bought honey and dandelions. I know, dandelions ! and we live in the country ! But we haven't got any at the moment in our garden and I don't trust the ones in meadows any more. So this was a treat.
We didn't eat anything at the fair, we resisted in front of sandwiches, hot dogs, kebabs, churros, waffles, or candy floss.
And we didn't come back home with mimosa this year. Mimosa is as famous as the fair. Everybody expects you to get mimosa when you go to the Foire Grasse in Lunéville. But this year we didn't take any. Next year, maybe.
On the 1st of March people were invited to go to the park of the castle in Lunéville near the biggest fountain and join a new event called Les Jardins de Lumière (Gardens of Light) at 8 pm.
Other places in the world were celebrating the same event in China, Russia, Poland and Germany. All had something in common with Lunéville : a big garden created during the 18th century.
We were there at 8 o'clock on the dot but it was already too late to get the promised Chinese lanterns. The organization had planned 500 visitors, we were about one thousand !
Anyway the atmosphere was friendly. We even met some friends in the dark (which I found quite surprising, plenty of people in the dark and we were just standing near people we knew). After a short explanation, we followed a couple of characters in costume who were walking on stilts along the main path. They stopped regularly and switched lights on to make us discover pictures of the other places joining the event. In the background colours on the castle walls were changing from blue to purple then to pink and also orange.
In the end we had time to walk around and were given a free hot chocolate which was really welcome as it was quite cold outside. In spite of this people were chatting as if summer had started.
On the 21st of June Les Jardins de Lumière will be organized again, this time with more music. I am sure plenty of people will enjoy it again.
You can see these shoes in the Musée de l'Histoire du Fer in Jarville-devant-Nancy. A sort of iron twisted nails are fixed on an iron support which is fixed on a wood sole and leather straps help feet to stay on the sole.
I first thought about shoes to walk on icy pavement or road, but the studs were too high.
Then I imagined it could be shoes to aerate a lawn. My husband told me I would be stuck in the ground on a wet day !
Well, so what ?
Shoes for football players ? Not very comfortable, too high and a bit aggressive, isn't it ?
There isn't any explanation near the shoes. I was still trying to guess when I saw one employee of the museum. I told her about my first ideas and she answered everybody was saying the same !
And she revealed what these shoes are : special shoes to break chestnut burrs. They were used by people growing chestnut trees and having big quantities to deal with.