Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Autumn and (no) pancakes

Last Friday was All Saint’s Day. Somehow, this Christian Holiday always seems to be the beginning of autumn. In the past it was a fun holiday, with my aunt and uncle – my mother’s brother and sister-in-law - and their five children, my cousins, coming over to visit the cemetery and put flowers on our (great) grandparent’s graves. Weather-wise it was usually freezing cold and after a stiff walk to and fro the cemetery my mother and her brother made pancakes for the ten of us. When he was younger, my uncle was a bit of a clown, and we had great fun watching him tossing the cakes in the air, while my mother was assisting, stirring the dough and pouring it in the second pan, ready for my uncle to perform his magic tricks.

As children we never had to bother about ordering the flowers in time and getting them to the cemetery before the crowds arrived, inspecting and commenting on the graves and the size, colours and probably the price of the flowers. It seemed like a way to assess the wealth or state of financial despair the fellow villagers where in.

The tradition of having my cousins over for pancakes died out many years ago, when one by one we got married and in some cases started having children. I can’t remember the last time I had home-made pancakes! My uncle and aunt, who are nearly ninety, are now living a retirement home, hardly aware of what time of year it is. My father died in 1997 and my mother hasn’t left her house since last April. It's all so distressing.

So, now I am in charge of ordering the flowers and getting them to the cemetery.  To top it all, our familiar flower shop closed down last August. Luckily I found a nice alternative in a nearby village and I managed to deliver everything to the cemetery on Thursday – with a little help from my friends …

Being rather pleased with the result, I took some photos with my smartphone to show to my mother. She deeply regrets not being able to visit my father’s tomb, but nevertheless said that I had done a good job. The photo is this post is that of my grandparents’ tomb. They have a tomb with a 99 years concession, which my great-grandfather’s tomb has already ‘outlived’.

One of my cousins (out of five) is coming over this afternoon for a tour of the cemetery and a visit to my mother. No pancakes this time, though, but afternoon coffee with delicious cakes from our excellent ‘patissier’. You see, some traditions never die. But it's up to our generation now to keep them alive …

P.S. Weather-wise we are having sun, rain, wind and temperatures between 9 and 12°C. Not the below zero temperatures like we used to have in the sixties and seventies! And yet, it definitely feels like autumn.


Nadege said...

Beautiful photo Martine!

GaynorB said...

The photograph isn't"t showing on my iPad. The march of time can be very difficult to come to terms with and I can understand both your and your mother's distress at not being able to share this important occasion in the way you have in the past.
Still it is obviously important to you that you continue the traditions, where possible.

ladybird said...

Nadege, Thank you, but most of the credit goes to Photoshop :)

Gaynor, I took the photo with my smartphone and mailed it to myself for editing and posting. Maybe that is why you don't see it.
And I do like traditions! :)

VirginiaC said...

Martine there are many island traditions that are already falling by the wayside, because the younger folk are not really interested.
I try hard to keep them alive for my daughter's sake but she will soon have to take the baton and keep them alive if they are to survive in this family.
I hope that next year you'll be able to make some pancakes for you and your mum to enjoy.....just for tradition's sake.

ladybird said...

Virginia, We try to keep up the traditions, but modern 'commerce' is taking over. And pancakes are definitely on next years' list :)