The second major focus of this festival was the cèpe, a wild mushroom that, if rainfall and temperatures permit, is abundant in this season. As we walk the forests of this region, we have encountered folks bearing baskets and seeking out cèpes. (Since we’re not familiar with wild mushrooms, we haven’t joined in this search, not wanting to wipe out our family by accident, although there are apparently not toxic varieties that greatly resemble this one.) Anyone who wishes can offer their finds and bargain for the best prices at the many Marchés de Cèpes taking place in this season. Professionals, like restaurateurs, usually buy large quantities; but anyone may be a customer. I was tempted, but the minimum purchase is a banquette of three kilos, which is a LOT of mushrooms, and I couldn’t persuade the woman standing next to me to split one.
We spent the day in Villefranche-du-Périgord for the Fête de la Chataigne et du Cèpe. You can’t take a country walk right now without stepping crunchily on chestnuts; everywhere they are falling from the trees and it’s really unnecessary to go purchase them. But it’s fun to watch them roasting and eat them hot from a little bag (memories of Rockefeller Center) while wandering around looking at other products: chestnuts preserved in syrup, chestnuts puréed, chestnut wood carved into knife handles and furniture. There are also contests for the biggest, the smallest, and the most beautiful chestnut.
Look out the window. Happy St. Swithin’s Day!
On this day in 2013, we were wandering the fairy-tale streets of Sarlat, a Périgord village of golden limestone, remarkably unchanged since the 16th century, and I sketched the birthplace and childhood home of Étienne de la Boétie (1530-1563), of which this is a detail.
An Irish blessing, and a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.
May God give you
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.
It’s really a key lime tart. But it’s my tribute to Pi Day.
A giant chocolate-chip scone on the table this morning, and a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). Happy Valentines Day, everyone.
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the Ocean
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle.
Why not I with thine? –
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
—Percy Bysshe Shelley