Climate Change. Can it be that bad ?

golden hue Autumn leaves

In our peaceful area of natural beauty we often consider ourselves as being closeted from many of the evolving realities of life.

Our air is fresh and clear. Our cloudless nights reflect skies that sparkle with the brightest stars. Our rivers are clean and free to gush past virgin forests on their unsuspecting journey to the sea.

But they do not have to flow far before reaching more treacherous territory.

Soils pumped with short term fixes bleed poison into the flowing streams.

Air filled with carbon waste feeds putrefied oxygen to suffocating fish.

Frogs croak but not with the joyful anticipation of continuing life.

Theirs is more of a desperate cry as willing mates are few. Life is no longer a healthy swim in sparkling rivers.

We too cry out like frogs. We rejoice in the lengthened summer days. We look forward to extended BBQ’s by the lake in early October. Life is getting better! Who needs to travel to the southern hemisphere to escape the winter?

Maybe the rivers further down stream are clogging up but our waters seem fine. It really can’t be that bad!

We feel smug and unique in our ‘island paradise.’

But no man is an island. We are all connected to the Universe.

Ultimately we all dance to one pipers tune.

He is still practicing our final anthem.

When he eventually plays it the theatre will be empty.

There’ll be no one left to shout encore!

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Story of ‘Oradour-Sur-Glane’ France

In the Limosin region of southern central France a ghostly village, Oradour-sur-Glane, stands forsaken and forlorn. Today only inquisitive tourists bring human life to the horror of one of the worst war crimes

committed by the German army in World War II.

remains of buildings in the main street   tram lines: empty street

Around 2 p.m. on 10 June 1944, four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, approximately one hundred and fifty Waffen-SS German soldiers entered the tranquil village.

For no apparent reason Hitler’s elite troops destroyed every building in this peaceful village and brutally murdered a total of six hundred and forty two innocent men, women and children,

On that beautiful summer day the defenseless inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane were aggressively dragged from their homes.

The sick and elderly were included in the shameful raid. The population was ordered to assemble on the village Fairground on the pretext of an identity parade.

Machine guns were pointed menacingly at the terrified group. After some minutes the women were separated from the men and marched a short distance to the small Catholic Church.

Mothers carried infants in their arms or pushed them in baby carriages.

crib  remains of burnt out  car

The men were then ordered to line up in three rows and face a wall that bordered the Fairground. A short time later they were randomly divided into groups and herded into six buildings, which included a barn, a

garage, a smithy, and a wine storehouse.

Around 4 p.m. a loud explosion was heard. This was interpreted as being a signal for the SS soldiers to begin firing their machine guns at the defenseless men. Most of the men were wounded in the legs and then

savagely burned alive.

At around five o’clock every building in the village was set on fire. Six men managed to escape from one of the burning barns but only five of them survived.

These escaped men were later able to testify in court and give a first hand report of the unjustified German barbarity against blameless French civilians.

The Oradour church was relatively small and could only seat around three hundred and fifty people. Despite these cramped conditions two hundred and forty five frightened women and two hundred and seven

distraught children were forced at gunpoint to enter the church.

rusty crib  rusted bycicle

The women and children were locked inside the church while the SS soldiers systematically looted all the homes in this prosperous farming village.

Around four o’clock, two SS soldiers planted a gas bomb inside the church that was still packed with helpless women and children.

The church was instantly engulfed in a cloud of noxious black smoke. The intention had been to asphyxiate the women and children.

tramlines  in the high street

As the desperate prisoners pressed against the church doors in an attempt to escape SS soldiers entered the crowded smoke-filled church and fired hundreds of shots at the hapless victims.

Their shots were aimed at a low trajectory to ensure that the bullets also killed the children. A gang of SS men stood outside the church ready to machine-gun anyone who managed to escape.

Hand grenades were tossed into the church blowing up babies in their prams. Brushwood and straw was then carried into the stone church and piled on top of the writhing bodies of those who as yet had not

perished. The church was then set on fire. According to a Bishop’s office report, the screams emanating from the church could be heard from a distance of two kilometers.

remains of buildings

A forty seven year old grandmother was the only person who escaped from the church. Taking advantage of a cloud of smoke, she hid behind the main altar where she found a ladder that had been left to light the

altar candles. Madame Marguerite Rouffanche used the ladder to climb up to a broken window behind the altar from which she leapt nine feet to the ground. She was hit by machine gun fire and wounded four times

in the legs and once in the shoulder. Despite her injuries she was able to crawl to the garden behind the presbytery.

There she painfully hid among the rows of peas until she was rescued the next day. It took a full year for her to recover from her wounds.

In 1953 she testified before a French military tribunal in Bordeaux about the German massacre of the women and children in the church.

The late French President de Gaulle of Franc ordered that the destroyed village remain in its ruined state to remind new generations of the horrors of war.

Tourists are able to visit the ruins of this village and experience the feeling of horror that it’s tragic memory brings to the human soul.

cemetery

 

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Preparations and Celebrations for a Christmas in France

Each year brings new pleasures when celebrating the Festive Season. This is a time for planning , preparing and  being creative. The celebrations are always worthwhile. The joy and spirit of goodwill, the closeness of friends and family, more than compensate for all the effort.

Here in Normandy, there are a host of  Festive events to enjoy.  Carol concerts, parades and  Christmas markets abound.  Seasonal local produce such as candied fruits, selections of wines, digestifs and artisan chocolates, all make  delicious and unusual Christmas gifts.

Its lovely to watch the’ living créshes’  perform live Nativity concerts and  skilled performers, using puppet characters, portraying the magic of Christmas. Its as though time has stood still in this beautiful part of the world, where communities remember life’s true values.

Every village and town has its own  illuminations. Some are more elaborate than others but all are created in the spirit of sharing the joys of this special time.

For many French people  the Christmas celebrations begin with ‘Le Reveillon’. This is a special late feast ,where all the family get together on Christmas Eve after midnight mass.

A typical family Christmas menu begins with seafood  or oysters, followed by the main course of duck or  goose with carefully presented vegetables. Here in Normandy, which is apple growing country, various forms of cooked apple accompany the meat dish.

A vast selection of French cheeses are presented prior to a delectable dessert (most often the Bûche de Noël or ‘Christmas Log’)

There is no real final dish, as ‘nibbling’ continues into the early morning light. However delicate pastries, chocolate truffles, fruit tarts, candied fruit and a variety of chocolates, served with coffee and liquors, signify the end of the formal dinner. It is customary to serve appropriate wines and Champagne with each course. The choice of these is important and demonstrates the hosts knowledge of fine French wines.

Expect to be sitting at the dining table for around five hours!  This is not just a meal, it’s a happy social occasion, where conversation, fun and laughter are as important as the delicious and varied meal.

Noél cake

 

The French do not usually include rich Christmas puddings or mince pies in their Christmas menu.

Above is a typical French Christmas desert. Light and fluffy, this mouse is packed with flavour and is easy to digest after a big meal!

Christmas presents are usually laid beneath a Christmas tree near the dinning table. These are normally exchanged on Christmas Eve, before the Christmas meal.

 

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