Sunday, 4 December 2011

A window a day

The Cloisters as an Advent calendar
Another grey murky day here today. However boring and gloomy the grey rain clouds are, fact is we do need the rain. It has been one of the driest and warmest autumns on record. 

So not a weekend for going out and doing things, but for staying in and slowly preparing for Christmas, which is coming up fast in the inside lane. We've got the Christmas card list out and bought the right stamps for various parts of the globe. Even though December has hardly begun, today is already the second Sunday in Advent. It's just the way the calendar crumbles, Christmas is not a moveable feast.

Yesterday we ran down to the village to pick up a parcel that La Poste had tried to deliver on Friday while we were out. In the Netherlands the docket telling you about the missed delivery informed you where the parcel had come from; here in France it doesn't so it remains a mystery until you actually turn up to collect it.

4 windows open
Our parcel turned out to be from a very dear friend in Massachusetts.  She has sent us a most magnificent Advent Calendar -- one from the New York Metropolitain Museum of Art. In 3D, it depicts The Cloisters, a medieval treasure house of a museum [and part of the Met] which we know well.  Each window hides an illustration of one of the museum's medieval treasures. An absolutely brilliant gift! Especially as, for the last couple of years, we've been disappointed by what's out there on offer. This is the first new one we've had for a while.

We've always had an advent calendar; it signals the start of the Christmas season. Some years we bought a new one, others times we re-used an especially beautiful one we'd saved. So now we have a small selection from which to choose; including one from Antoinette's childhood. It's still in relatively good order although it can be a bit tricky to keep the wee windows closed so that you can [re-]open one each day!

wild boar hunt
An advantage of the poor weather is that there aren't too many hunters out and about today. It seems it's too rainy and windy. As this is being typed the Aigronne valley has vanished in a white haze which means another burst of rain is about to roll up to the house. 

Don't think they were that fussed about whether or not the weather was good when hunting in the 14th C when was it more of an imperative as a means of replenishing the larder. Although, then as now, rain would drown out any scent of the wild boar or deer, leaving them little to show for their efforts. 

The December illumination by the Brothers Limbourg in the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry shows the successful end of a wild boar hunt. If you look closely you can see that the hunt servant on the left looks exhausted, as well he might having had to run to keep up with the dogs; one of whom he's already leashed. The one on the right is blowing the call to signal the death of the boar and the third servant is putting the collar/leash back on a mastiff type dog, who is far more intent on sinking his teeth into his share of the boar. In the background is the chateau of Vincennes. The forest surrounding the chateau was a favoured hunting ground of the French royal house.



15 comments:

Susan said...

We've just got back from Chateauroux (visiting Célestine :-( and I was surprised to see a big hunt in progress in the Brenne on the way over just after lunch. People of all ages and lots of them.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We went to see friends in the pouring rain and passed two lots out hunting this morning!! The garden is very happy about the weather so I don't complain.
Love the advent calendar, I have not had one in years. Diane

The Broad said...

Many years ago, when my sister was first married, she lived very near the Cloisters -- to get to her place when you got off the subway you took an elevator down to ground level and when the doors opened there across the street was her apartment. We often went up the elevator to the Cloisters park and it was very beautiful and had a great view of the George Washington Bridge -- which I loved.

What a beautiful Advent Calendar!

Perpetua said...

I didn't manage to get to the Cloisters when I was in New York, so I'm envious of your Advent calendar. I don't normally have one, though the grandsons do, but this year I have an animated one on the computer which I've also sent to them as an extra. It's rather fun. :-)

Your illustrations from the Tres Riches Heures are wonderful. I was given a book of reproductions of them which I treasure, as I love nediaeval art and illuminations.

the fly in the web said...

Tres Riches Heures AND a super advent calendar! Spoiling us!

There's a cookery advent calendar on a Costa Rican cooking blog I follow...so that's mine for this year.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - How is poor Célestine? Hopefully she is getting better.

I suppose if they are using beaters it doesn't matter if it's raining... they'll frighten the game into showing itself.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - ditto here; the plants grateful for the rain. Stunning day today though - bright blue skies.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - the Cloisters park is lovely.

Amazing isn't it, they brought the whole building, lock, stock and every stone over from Italy and re-built it.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - We have a copy of them too. As a teenager I was lucky enough to see them 'for real' in the Musée de Condé in Chantilly.
Antoinette

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - 'tis the season for spoiling :-)
And who knows the Tres Riches Heures might be making another appearance in the run up to Christmas...

GaynorB said...

Lovely advent calendar. If only there was a chocolate behind each window too - I'm partial to a Green and Black's 70% dark! ;o)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - LOL! Perfection indeed!

John Gray said...

lovely to catch p with your blog too x

Niall & Antoinette said...

@John - Welcome! :-)