National Geographic : 1953 Feb
244 Al Taylor Veiled Against Stings, a Beekeeper Harvests Honey Bees enjoy a happy hunting ground in Vezelay's f The honey yield is large, its quality good. Smoke froi smudge pot discourages stinging and facilitates honey to the Dead and managed inadvertently to contribute something of comic relief to the solemnity of the occasion. When the mayor learned that I was to get my wreath from Avallon, nine miles away, he remarked pensively, "Oh, then yours will be much bigger than mine!" A Surprise Floral Necklace As there is no florist in Vezelay, I had ordered what I thought would be a modest yet appropriate wreath to cost about $3. But the mayor knew whereof he spoke. When I went for the wreath in my jeep, it turned out to be four feet in diameter, beautifully made of freshly cut chrysanthemums. I won dered if I could have purchased a like one for fifteen times that sum in New York or San Francisco. I returned from Avallon with two passen gers, a young artist and a Benedictine monk. With these two in the jeep, we decided to carry the wreath by placing it around the neck and shoulders of the monk. His head, with a black beret, protruded through the center, and his luxuriant, flowing gray beard became entangled in the petals. lowering countryside. m the bellows-fanned Thus we returned to Vezelay, passing up the steep main street under the astonished gaze of the populace. When the mayor saw us he observed in mock gravity: "I told you your wreath would be far bigger than mine. But I didn't real ize you were having a monk built into it!" The visitor to Vezelay, save on the great fete days, may proceed up the main street to the basilica by automobile, as do most motorists. But a more re warding view is afforded those who walk from the Place du Barle. Facing the Place are the two prin cipal inns, the Hotel de la Poste et du Lion d'Or and the Hotel du Cheval Blanc, both offering com fortable accommodations and excellent food. On the third Thursday of each month the Place is enlivened by a foire, or fair. This used to be of greater importance than it is today. Cattle and horse breeders drove their ani- taking. mals up the hill to be ex hibited, and viniculturists offered barrels of wine. Some buyers and sellers still meet at the fair, but usually such transactions are completed on farms and in wine cellars. Today the fair consists principally of port able booths under canvas, where vendors sell household articles, candies and cookies, knick nacks, shirts, aprons, and fabrics. Occasionally an itinerant coppersmith welds and re-tins worn-out copper vessels. On some of the fete days there are also a merry-go round, shooting galleries, swinging wooden boats, and a folding dance hall, which attract the youth of the neighborhood. After the f&te these are dismantled, packed onto trail ers, and hauled away by trucks in which the owners and operators live, to be set up at an other fair somewhere else. Pigs Voice a Loud Protest Though cattle seldom come to the fair, stout Ardennais draft mares with their sturdy foals, and many little pigs attend it. The piglets are brought in venerable sedans or vans, mostly fueled by charcoal, or in still more ancient carioles, two- or four-wheeled carts pulled by a donkey or an aged mare.