Chaos in the Streets

“Living in a tree,
Yeah that’s where I’d like to be,
When the world falls down.

No one can say nothing,
Which I guess means they’ll say something,
But I won’t be around.

I’ll be in my tree,
Living free,
As any child would wanna be.

Chaos in the streets,
Lonely hearts bear lonely beats,
In a world carved with steel and stone.

Miscommunication leads to fear and hesitation,
And it won’t leave me alone.

But now in my tree,
I’m living free,
As any child would wanna be.

Maybe you and me can make a home for us and someday three from the strongest wood of the tallest tree and we’ll be,

Living in a tree,
Living free,
As any child would wanna be.

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la…”


This morning, while I was running around the village getting blood tests and prescriptions filled and all sorts of stuff, I saw a flatbed truck careen around the corner with the Pailhasse dummies in the back, with tons of green oak branches. The drivers were in costumes, as were the men following them…all in white with strange hats. People were playing drums and some strange high pitched whistle…

The main square of the village has been taken over with games and amusement rides, and as I made my way home, a band was marching through the streets, faces painted, playing a weird cheerful medieval song over and over again.

Yup, it’s carnival time! And on the fifth of this month, we will celebrate the Féte des Pailhasses.

Everyone remember what that is? It’s the totally bizarre Bacchanalia Carnival that has been celebrated here in our village since pagan times as a reenactment of an ancient dispute between the Cournonterralais and the Aumelassians.

Here’s the link to the original blog post: La Féte des Pailhasses

After a family apertif party for his grandmother last night, neither of us could sleep, so I changed my boots and we took off on a midnight walk through the village and then off into the hills. We distributed flyers for the mayor for the upcoming election, stuffing glossy ads into mailboxes (Mathieu volunteers with the mayor and his town planning commitee), and then slipped through the dark silent old town and into the hills, as the stars emerged from behind the clouds. We watched Orion come out, found Jupiter, and identified Sirius and Pegasus, the Great Bear and the little Dipper, and Casseopeia hanging in her chair upside down in the night sky.

We’ve been under stress lately…like the song says, “Miscommunication leads to fear and hesitation,” and it felt good to walk together and feel connected, my head tucked into his shoulder, letting our eyes slowly adjust to the darkness as we made our way along the paths.

We talked a little about the festival. I think he’s excited to show me. We’re going to watch them get ready, stuffing their burlap shirts with straw and covering their faces with oak and badger skins. There’s going to be a little thing in the morning in the square where there will be a circle dance and they’ll play that weird, sweet haunting song that they keep playing all day here in the village. There will be a parade. And then, three hours of total and complete anarchy will begin.

“My mom is coming over to bake des escallettes.” Mathieu told me. ” She needs a gas stove to make them, they’re little flat biscuits that are traditional for this festival and are only made here.” (click the links for recipes!)

“Why does she need a gas stove?”

“You make a batter with flour and sugar and eggs and lemon zest, and they get pressed in these iron presses and cooked over the flame.”

(The name is derived from the Catalan word “escala” or “l’échelle” in French, which means ladder, and symbolizes the inversion of the social order that accompanies Carnival and the Féte des Pailhasses.)

“We can go out after they’ve finished running, it’s three hours, and we can see how bad the town has been trashed,” he told me.

“They burn the pepettes late at night too, we can go see that.”

“Ok,” I said, “but I’d like to see what they do, you know, while they’re trashing the village.”

Mathieu shook his head and laughed and shook his head some more. “They’re all drunk, they don’t know what they’re doing. After they’ve finished the dance, the Blancs go running and the Pailhasses chase them with rags. They go crazy. Anyone walking by is considered part of the games. They attack people, they drag them into bathtubs and barrels, they chase you. If they’re coming for you, you need to run. They could hurt you. And I don’t think you can run right now.”

True. “But I’m pregnant, surely they won’t…?”

He shook his head.”No, they’re all really drunk. Best case scenario, you’ll get submerged in a barrel of lie, but you could get hurt. I don’t want to let you do it this year.”

(Me picturing getting chased through the streets by demented monsters with badger skins over their faces.)”Ok.” I protectively cradled my belly and was rewarded with a sizable kick.

“You’ll love making these cookies with my mom, too…it’s one of the biggest days in this village, and I think you need to experience it at least once.” Even though it was after midnight as we walked through the deserted streets of the village, we could still hear a band playing, repetitively, that strange song, echoing through the streets. We passed a school with Pailhasses painted on the windows. “They’ve been doing it for, at least, 600 years here. Maybe longer.” We were passing the old church and the remnants of the walls of the old town. “It was just here. Can you imagine medieval people running through these streets with badger skins over their faces, howling drunk and covered in oak leaves? They don’t let anyone from outside the village come in on this day, they don’t even let the buses through, because people won’t understand.”


Because I promised: pregnancy update. (I put this at the bottom for those of you who are less fascinated with this stuff.) 🙂

Sorry, guys. I know, I know.

End of week 31, which means I am officially entering the EIGHTH MONTH. Eight. Eight? Wow.

We had a visit to the obstetrician yesterday to celebrate and got some new sonogram photos. Big news for me yesterday: the baby has turned, which I had suspected actually due to the fact that his HEAD was no longer bending my right ribs out. Also there have been a couple big movement days this last month of legs and baby butts and heads all over the place, so I thought he might be turning around. His head is now down, on my left side, with his back curling up along my right side.

He’s getting ready! For his great escape! How cool is that?

It now feels less like kicking and more like bonafide movements, rolling and turning and occasional little legs coming up under my ribs.  It’s just awesome. He’s at 1.6 kilos, which is 3.257 pounds.. I’m starting more and more to feel this little person…I can’t wait to meet him.

photo 4 (1)

Here he is! I recognize that it’s a little harder to see now that he’s bigger…But if you look you can see two eyes, a nose and a mouth. He looks perfect.

photo 1 (2)

This is the sonogram. Again, I realize I’m basically giving you Roscharch tests here, but maybe you can see the profile?

The discussions have begun in the family about “whose nose is that?”, and I’m going with, “Who can really tell ANYTHING from a photo like this anyway?” But Mathieu has started having dreams about him being born (I haven’t yet at all) and the latest dream this week was that we wound up with a green-hazel eyed, curly haired baby with blond hair. The eyes and the disastrous hair being from me, the blond hair being from Mathieu when he was a baby. Seriously, the pictures of him when he was little are ridiculous…women spend a LOT of money to get honey streaks like that in their hair.

Yup. You can have a minute if you need one. I’m going to take one.

I don’t have too many of me when I was little, but here’s one of my with my older sister. 🙂

Incidentally, my sister had a dream too, that we had the baby and named him Mario. 🙂 No, really.

If you’re wondering, I think we do have a name more or less picked out, although anything can change. It will not, however, be changing to Mario. Now, Luigi, hmmmm. 😉

…I’ll update again after the fifth and the festival to tell you all about it!


2 thoughts on “Chaos in the Streets

  1. Great post! The townspeople sound like they are possessed once a year (at least).
    Thanks for the pictures too! It will be interesting to see the ‘after’ pics of the town.
    By the way, the sonogram photos did not show up, just a placeholder. No hint on the name, is it Lino or Pino?

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