A Breton president? / Ur brezidantez breton?

The current presidential election–a topic that you didn’t expect on this blog. It’s extremely important, of course. But don’t worry–I’m not here to talk US politics. Instead I’m going to share with you the one thing I’m pretty sure that you don’t know about one of the major candidates….

Hillary Clinton is Breton! That means in two days, the US may be electing a Breton president. I have to say, I think that’s pretty cool. And I think it’s safe to say that I’ve managed to scoop the New York Times and the Washington Post on this one.

It turns out that Hillary is French Canadian on her mother’s side, and her ancestors came from 16 different départements–which are similar to states–in France, including two Breton départements, Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine. (She also has an ancestor from Loire-Atlantique, which includes an important corner of traditional Brittany, so she may be even more Breton.) Morbihan is where I was living when I began this blog, so maybe she’s related to the people I met when I lived in Plañvour. And no doubt, those ancestors spoke in the Gwened (aka Vannetais) dialect.

Also of note: Hillary is a descendant of King Louis X of France, a medieval king who–among other things–freed the serfs and allowed the Jews to return to France. These two facts are quite impressive. The details on his Wikipedia page point up some self-serving motives and harsh details–but still, a step in the right direction. And who else is descended from King Louis X? The current president of France, François Hollande. So they’re distant cousins.

Closer cousins of Hillary via that French Canadian heritage apparently include Madonna, Céline Dion, and Angelina Jolie. Just imagine that family reunion….

I found all this out via the France 3 (Bretagne) website article (it’s in French, of course) about Hillary. It takes this information from a new book on French and international leaders’ family histories. It’s called Dico des Politiques, is written by the geneologist Jean-Louis Beaucarnot, and was just published on November 2nd.

Nevez-Amzer emañ o tont / Spring is a-comin’

Cherry blossoms along the Place de Bretagne

I was riding the bus home one day this week, and out the window I spied these cherry blossoms. What a happy sight! So when I was in town yesterday, I took a couple of photos, including this one. It seems as if it’s been winter for so long now, and I am more than ready for spring to arrive.

They weren’t the first flowers to appear–some narcissus popped up in the garden a week or so ago–but for me the cherry blossom is the true harbinger of spring. It’s also a flower that brings back happy memories of other springs in other lands. I recall enjoying the cherry blossoms near the Lincoln Memorial when–as a college student in DC–I used to take walks around the monuments with my friends.  And I have many fond memories of the cherry blossoms from the time that I lived in Japan. There were many lovely trees were in my neighborhood in Takarazuka, along the ponds that faced the hotel–and in Kyoto, of course, even more lined the temple walks. On my last visit to Japan, a few years ago, I lucked out. My week there just happened to be the week that the cherry blossom trees all burst into bloom along the island of Honshu and I felt as if I were being welcomed back after my long absence.

There are also many cherry blossom trees in Oakland’s Lakeside Park, and during the years that I lived there, I was able to hop down the hill from my apartment in Adams Point and enjoy them as I took walks around Lake Merritt. And even in my childhood, there were some cherry blossoms that I’d see occasionally in my hometown. So they’ve always been there in my life. I didn’t know if I’d see any here in town. I’m glad there are a few for me to enjoy. And soon it really will be spring.

Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise in Lomener

On my bike ride this afternoon, I noticed quite a few cars in the Intermarché parking lot in the nearby village of Lomener. It seemed odd to me because the supermarket is not open on Sundays. I took a quick look at the entrance to verify that it was closed and of course it was. So what was the explanation? It was a lovely–if slightly chilly–winter’s afternoon here on the coast and many people had driven out here from other areas to walk along the coastal path and enjoy the views. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be spending so much time here on the coast, here in a region filled with sparkly white beaches and rocky outcroppings and picturesque ruins. The coast of Plañvour (Ploemeur) is a place that draws weekend visitors for afternoon strolls. In summer, people from other parts of Brittany and other parts of France, as well, descend on the shores for weeks of sunbathing, swimming, sailing, kayaking, and other water sports.

I had begun the weekend by waking up early Saturday and heading out to the beach to watch the sunrise. I brought my camera with me on my walk, and captured some lovely images. At that time of day, standing above the beach halfway between my house and central Lomener, it seemed as if all I had to do was point my camera in the direction of the ocean and I had a wonderful photo. I made my way back to Ar Guerveur, my village, but decided I had a bit more energy, so I continued along the coastal path to the field where the Shetland pony that I met so long ago lives. I said hi to the pony and the two goats with him. Then I walked over to the horse that was standing in the field across from the others. The horse came over to me let me pet him for a while. I headed back home content, and more than ready for breakfast.

Late this afternoon (Sunday), I decided that I had to get out of the house because I had spent all day inside. I got on my bicycle and took a ride east of here, thinking I’d go a little past Lomener. Once I got past the village, I looked for a path that I’d heard of that runs from the beach to the Plañvour town center. After a few false starts, I found it, and ended up following it for a while, exploring a marshy area a little north of there. I didn’t want to head out too far, as it was likely to get cold soon, so I turned around after reaching the pathway that goes under the main road. Then I noticed a small side route, and the sign said ‘Lomener’, so I decided to take this new route. Along the way, I passed through an older village that I had ncver seen before. I detoured a little to follow an old mill road just far enough to be able to say hello to some horses in a small field.

I got back to Lomener, having enjoyed my little adventure. It’s always a pleasure to explore a new road or avenue here, because there are so many old villages and there is so much nature in this area. I decided to extend my voyage a little by taking a longish route home via the coastal path, following the sun, which was by now a big orange ball descending in the west. As I was looking out over a field facing the lighthouse, I caught my last glimpse of the sun as it sank behind a mass of clouds. I hopped back on my bicycle, made my way back to the main road, and stopped in at the bakery in Kerroc’h to pick up some fresh bread and a cookie. I pedaled home the last few yards in the chill evening air, happy to have had two lovely moments this weekend enjoying the sun, nature, and the coast.

A holiday weekend puzzle

I thought some of you might like a little puzzle to get the ol’ synapses going after the holiday. This is a photo that I took near my maisonette yesterday morning. Not that that information will help you at all to solve the puzzle….

Here’s the puzzle question:

What is wrong with the photo below?

I encourage guesses as well as confident responses, so don’t be shy. Post your answers as comments and I’ll see who is able to divine/figure out/intuit the correct answer.

The first correct response will receive a prize–a picture postcard of Brittany from yours truly. Chañs vat ! (Good luck!)

The puzzle photo

Skeudennoù goañv / Winter photos

It’s winter, and I’m happy to be on a two-week break from school, and to have my sweetheart J here visiting me.

Here are some pictures from walks we’ve been taking in the neighborhood this week. To see a photo in greater detail, click on it. Enjoy!

More fall pictures / Skeudennoù diskar-amzer muioc’h

Folks seemed to enjoy the pictures, so here are a few more. These pictures I took near the school that I attend. Enjoy!

This was taken on a walk around the lake across the street from school. The lake--in truth, part of an estuary--is called Stang ar Ter.
Another view near the lake. This is a field of buckwheat after the harvest.
Some birds who live at the Stang, including a cormorant who was drying off its wings.
Close-up of a mossy wall at the Stang.

A rundown manor that sits on the hill above the school.

Fall pictures of the neighborhood / Skeudennoù diskar-amzer tost er gêr

Now that the fall is almost over, and cold weather is upon us, it seems the ideal time to share some of my fall photos with you. Here are some photos from my village and a little beyond.

The coast a little west of here, near Kouregant.
An old stone fort, perhaps, located near Kerloeiz, with a new crop growing around it.
A bird on the roof of a stone farmhouse, from photos taken on a bike ride through Kervernoïs.
A defunct tower near my house, called la Tour du Génie. I'll have to find out the story behind it.
Some cows grazing near the Tour du Génie down the street, in Ar Gerveur.
A flower in the heath near the Point du Palud.