Friday, April 9, 2010
It seems fitting that today is the feast day of Saint Waltrude, who lived in a convent in Mons back in the 7th century, as well as the anniversary of the French occupation of Mons, Belgium a thousand years later in 1691, following a nine-month siege that featured beehives hurled from the ramparts and pornographic mystery plays performed in secret.
Not that Waltrude did very much in Mons or anywhere else; but once a year on the feast known as Doudou or Ducasse her rather attractive reliquary is taken out of its cubby in the cathedral and paraded around the city of Mons in a gilded dray. (I have a mug and a plate commemorating this festival; my mother’s plate is nicer.)
Still, why do I care about Mons (and yes, I am well aware of its other meaning)?
Because my beloved Bonne Maman was born there more than 100 years ago.
And doubly fitting, because today is the 5th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles (Of course we don’t know if they celebrate this anniversary, or a more intimate one harking back to their first tryst but that is not my business, or yours.) Their wood anniversary. And one thing Bonne Maman was adamant about was the importance of TOUCHING WOOD. So much so that when we drove across the country together in the 70’s in her beige Buick, she kept a wooden pomegranate on the bench seat right between us so that at any appropriate moment in the conversation we could avoid jinxing our good luck or bringing upon us the wrath of the gods, by touching our handy wooden pomegranate. There were many such moments.
(I still travel with a wooden fruit. In honor of Cartagena I am calling it a lula these days, though you would probably say it looks like a tomato.)