Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Plowmen's feast

From one year to the next, the annual plowmen's feast at St-Jean-en-Royans seems to be getting duller and duller. In any case, there is no longer any authentic rural soul in this event. The few surviving plowmen in the region are so busy driving their gigantic luxury tractors across fields that will soon be sown with corn that they're unlikely to take time off to drive into the village and watch the parade.

The only tractors you find here are the old machines that drag the floats. But how can a village queen and her ladies-in-waiting pretend to look regal when they're being carted through the streets like livestock? I often feel that the French villages are emerging inexorably from the Age of Innocence. In fact, they probably left that age about a century ago. So, the age they're leaving now has been one of make-believe innocence. You can sense it in the people's dull expressions. Nobody's really excited about what's happening. They're merely playing out an empty ritual... like going to mass on a Sunday morning.

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