Friday, 18 March 2016

Standing under the stars.....

So there I was, outside on the pavement,
a dark sky overhead, but with the moon peeping and the stars twinkling.
Beside me was a group of young men,
poshed up in white shirts and black trousers,
some with black bow ties,
celebrating the end of their exams,
drinks in hand,
merriment rife.
To the other side of me was a wagon full of flowers waiting to happen,
newly planted,
ready for the long flowering season ahead.
Slightly bent over from the cold of the night,
they waited for their time to come,
of floral expansion,
of feeding the bees,
of giving a chunk of colour,
on what was quite a busy junction
in a small French town.
Behind me was the bar,
Le Progrès, Nogoro,
which I had momentarily abandoned,
for favour of a lung full of fresh air,
not that the air in the bar was fetid,
just that I felt the need to go outside,
just for a moment,
just to stop and think.
Also to escape the ear splitting blast of a kilted man playing the bagpipes,
the reverberation of which was trembling the blood in my veins.
Lester and me, we were out for the night,
animals done early, much to their annoyance,
sheep moaning at full voice about the injustice of having to be in their paddock
at 4pm in the afternoon,
the geese at full voice in the courtyard because they wanted to be out and about,
the chickens OK because they could rummage in the newly purchased hay bale,
which they are not supposed to do,
but will do anyway.
The cows were quiet, though,
they had just been milked,
three hours ahead of their normal milking time,
they could now stand down for the night,
knowing that Lester was not going to wake them up
so he could work on their udders.
The dogs, too, were quiet indoors.
They know that there will be nothing happening for a few hours
once they see one violin case, one mandolin case, one accordion case,
one music stand case, one bag of music, and one bag of sundries
( bottle of water, bag of dried figs for nibbles, pen case, bag of sweets, banana,
loo roll for 'just in case' situations)
all going out the door,
and me and Lester tidied up,
 but not poshed up,
because the days when we were suited and smartly attired
are long gone, left on the shores of England
as we travelled across the water to France.
Now we are homesteaders,
and reflect that in our attire.
Me: thick DIY skirt, DIY socks, boots, jumper, DIY cardigan.
Lester: clean working trousers, jumper, sleeveless jacket, flat cap.
And we were off out to Le Progrès. Nogoro,
because tonight we were to play at our first bar gig with the band.
This year we have played in a church,
and in a hall.
Neither gave us much of a buzz,
but oh wow,
we had already played for an hour or so in the bar,
oh wow,
and ' oh wow' again.
 People were eating,
people were chatting,
trying to hold conversations over the sound from the band,
all was buzzing.
Oh wow!
And so it came to be the time for a short break,
and up stood the large kilted Frenchman,
hoisting his bagpipes up onto his chest,
letting rip, at full blast,
a medley of Scottish bagpipe tunes,
his partner beside him,
with drums strapped to her waist,
banging, banging, banging, away.
Time to evacuate the space,
needing to preserve the health of my eardrums,
have a pause from playing,
have a wander around,
investigate the bar,
this French bar,
Le Progrès.
And so I stood outside,
with the young men celebrating the end of this stage of their lives,
with the flowers waiting to happen,
with the cool, clear, night sky overhead,
and became deeply moved with gratitude for it all.
Who would have thought that I would ever be doing this....
that I am here in France,
have got a smallholding lifestyle which has truck loads of busyness attached to it,
that music has opened up such a marvellous opportunity to play in a band,
not staid old fogey music,
but the rollicking jigs and reels of Irish music.
It has even given me a liking for heavy metal music,
which of course I am never going to play,
even I think that would be going over the top,
me, in my boots, corduroy skirt and home knit cardi
playing my accordion as the heavy metal folk scream away on their guitars.
And so I stood outside,
and thought of how very lucky I was,
with a smidgeon of a tear in the corner of my eye,
but not a trickle,
just the teeniest morsel of a teardrop.
And I said to me,
"Crikey girl, who would have thought you would be doing any of this...."
Time to go back inside.
Playing music,
being fed for free because we are the musicians for the evening,
drinks for free as well,
tapping our feet,
bouncing to the beat,
feeling the fingers take up the tune,
feeling the interweaving of sound
not minding the occasional wrong note,
carrying on anyway,
watching the crowd,
seeing some listening,
not minding those who aren't,
carrying on anyway,
seeing people start to leave,
they look happy,
which is good,
it is a nice seeing them happy,
means we have done a good job,
carrying on anyway.
And now it is our time to stop.
We travel home through the night.
It is late,
but although tired I am not fatigued,
neither is Lester.
We have fencing to do today,
otherwise the cows and sheep are going to go into melt down with being kept in,
but they can't go out into the side field because the grazing has all been eaten,
and they can't go out into the front field because the fencing needs to be sorted out.
So with the music of last night still singing in my ears,
(except the bagpipe)
and memories of the moment when I stood outside and marvelled at how interesting life can be when opportunities which are scary to begin with are nevertheless taken up and pursued,
I must away into my day.
Bye for now,


Dawn McHugh said...

Wonderful just wonderful and to think it wasnt so long ago you had the jitters about playing :-)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I would've loved to hear your performance!

Marty Damon said...

Sheer poetry.
Thank you for taking our hands and leading us through your magical evening.

PioneerPreppy said...

I'm confused. Who is the Bagpipe player?

Sheep get so pissy about being locked up early. Ours are really mad at me now as they are forecasting rain so the entire flock and the rams are locked inside today before shearing.

Very unhappy sheep.

Olly said...

And risk brings rewards! What a lovely post. Sometimes it's good to just stop and appreciate how far you've come.

John Gray said...

Beautiful and descriptive as always, i could be there vera

DUTA said...

I was glad to read about your successful gig at the Le Progres bar. May you have more gigs like this one! Your detailed description of the evening is delightful.

Vera said...

DAWN, bless you for remembering how jittery I indeed was when we were invited to audition for the band! Crikey, but that was scary!

LISA, we hope to record some of the music eventually, but we are not professionals, just people who like to play music!

MARTY, I am glad you enjoyed sharing our evening with us. It was definitely one to remember.

PIONEER PREPPY, the bagpipe player? Don't know! He didn't belong to the band, he just walked in to the bar half way through the evening.
We have very unhappy sheep as well, every time they see us they moan and moan and moan. I think it is something to do with being kept off the main field while we get the fence repaired. They don't like the side field because they have now eaten most of the grass!

OLLY, you are right....sometimes it is good to pause and reflect, and be amazed at how much one has done in one's life!

JOHN, I wish you had been there!

DUTA, I am glad to have been able to share our evening with you. It is nice to share precious memories.

Cro Magnon said...

In my very different way, I often have similar thoughts.

Vera said...

CRO MAGNON, and how lucky we are to be able to marvel at the way our lives have turned out!

Blogoratti said...

Outstanding, and magical too. Well done, and warm greetings!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

how wonderful, Vera! i loved this!