Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Summertime and the Livin' is Easy...

Fish are jumping and the cotton is high...."  George Gershwin

   Newly cleaned surfaces of Notre Dame Cathedral in Nice

I am having a busy summertime despite the heat.   The other week or so, I stepped out to see a concert at Our Lady ....Notre Dame Cathedral in Nice.  The evening was a free offering by the American Youth Orchestra of Philadelphia and they were damned good.  I guess it helps to have a popular selection on the program, including Stars and Stripes Forever by Souza but all of the selections were beautifully rendered and narrated in American accented "French" .  It was amusing to watch the seemingly youngest member, around 7 years old, in the percussion section wending Cymbals, Xylophone, and triange as well as a big bass drum.  You can see her peeking over the drum in the picture.  Her bangs flew every time the cymbals were struck...charming.

   I went to this event with my friends, Jacquie and Philippe and there I noticed cultural difference number 138.  .....how Americans give a standing ovation for any good effort,  not just applauding for merit.  The youth orchestra did a fine job but their experience is what it is.   They may grow to be excellent one day but they are very young.

 I observed that the first 15 pews in the church were probably the American parents of these children, traveling through Europe with the orchestra.

                                  Members of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra tune up in preparation for their concert

 At the finale of the concert, all the Americans jumped to their feet to give a standing ovation while the French remained seated and applauded, albeit enthusiastically.  After the 3rd curtain call , the Americans remained standing and clapping and the French slipped away out of the hall.     I think this difference is about what Americans feel about rewards.   Is effort to be rewarded as much as excellence?  Americans will say yes to the former especially if children are involved.  I am not sure about the French but my sense is no, only merit will be rewarded and that only subtly.  I'll bet the French would say that the standing ovation is really over-used by the Americans. who are "childishly" enthusiastic.  Hmmm.

My next venture out was to Nuits de Suds , a summer international music festival which takes place in the Place du Grand Jardin de Vence each year and which we attended last year at the price of 14 euros instead of this year's fee of twenty.  Yes, prices are really going up around here.   But probably because of the price hike and the economy woes in general , we were able to land a table this year and enjoy a decent glass of wine while we listened.

                                                                         Gocoo lead drummer
 The first concert was by Gocoo, a group composed of 40 exuberant drummers.  The traditional style of Japanese drumming is mostly done by men but this time the majority were women.....and I must say..... young women, as very few arms are up to the kind of punishment and endurance required for this traditional "tambour" drumming done at full force.   The flailing arms and thunderous beat endured for at least an hour and a half without let-up... (we came in at the middle).  However, I was impressed by what I witnessed of these inexhaustible and talented musicians. And you couldn't help but be affected on some visceral level by these ancient Japanese rhythms .  

                                                                     Kid Creole and The Coconuts

The main concert for the evening was Kid Creole and The Coconuts, the latter presumably referring to the sensuous dancing girls who were a constant on stage (except when making one of at least 8 costume changes) during the show.   The group's presentation is humorous and fun but King Creole and his side kicks didn't get into their musical groove until half way into the concert.  Still, they got there and finally had the audience dancing and swaying.  We had long since abandoned our table to move to the beat.

Another summer activity is swimming.  I am not a great swimmer but was curious to see the total refurbishment of the municipal pool at Breil sur Roya where I was invited to spend the night with a girlfriend.

  The town was crowded for the summer festivals.  But it is still cooler than Nice and tranquil by comparison.  The "piscine" is quite impressive as there is a beautiful open roofed pool served with solar panels and a grassy outdoor area where one can rent a chaise for the attractive price of 1 euro . You can picnic, rest in sun or shade or just stare up at the surrounding cliffs as I did intermittently between reading and swimming.  And the smell of wood throughout is irresistible.

We had a good swim , a hike through a minuscule hamlet whose name escapes me  , and a gathering of plums from a "wild" Reine Claude plum tree.  Jeanne and I couldn't abandon such abundance and we brought home enough for two pies at least.   I made mine with Paleo crust featuring almond and coconut flour and coconut oil as a binder.  I also added some ripe peaches for the sweetness.   It was pretty tasty.

Here is the Roya river in all its riverness... its still fishing season there if you have mastered fly rising.

And the surrounding parks and trees of the lovely village of Breil sur Roya near the border of Italy.  

On our hike we starting identifying local edible and medicinal plants.  But none of them but the blackberries and plums really enticed me.  I hope I never have to live off the land...I'm afraid I would starve.  

One last report about Les Compagnons de la Grappe, a small wine cave and restaurant that Katherine found and invited us to a few Friday's back.   It is located just off of Place Garibaldi at 2  Rue Catherine Segurane.   Telephone: 04-93-55-69-24

 After we were given one of the few tables available,  we were served a lovely glass of wine from their cave selection.   On certain nights there are simple dishes on offer.  We all opted for the beef carpaccio which was copious and tasty.

 The best part of the evening though was some very young musicians who entertained through the evening singing pop songs and standards.  They were able and charming to hear and watch with their unexpected sang froid.   The girl's name is Josephine Schute and she and her band are not too concerned about keeping up their facebook page called A.JAM.    But if I see her name mentioned again I will try to go, especially in this cave where their selection was more toned down from their usual rock music with the full band.   It was great to see kids under 20 years old really finding their passion and delivering with panache.

The cave was a little short handed or maybe they were just inefficient with their serving.... so our evening stretched out a lot longer than we expected.  Still when you are in France, you expect to expand the evening out for as long as it takes. ...not always a bad thing.

  Yes, summertime...and the livin' is easy.  Fish are jumpin'  and.... well....I can't speak for the cotton but .....the prices are high. ... (apologies to George).  

1 comment:

  1. I was reading your Blog--SO GREAT! The photos, your views, your writing -- all quite wonderful. I feel as if I have a little window into your beautiful life. Envy from a working woman whose work is beginning to pall!

    Linda Y.