Tuesday, January 21, 2014

As we were - waiting for the cave to open.

This seems like a bit of innocent fun - I've cribbed the idea from Rachel, who in turn was inspired by Jane.

Absolutely no science whatsoever in deciding which photo to choose - grab an album and open at random.

Et voila! Here we are, my boys and I in France, somewhere near Cahor. When? I'm guessing about 25 years ago. Note that we are the personification of Cowards oft quoted lines 'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun....' The temperature is stifling; we do not have the sense to find a shady spot but fry on this handy bench. Not only are we overheated we are also bored stiff.
We are waiting for the cave to open. Having fetched up in the heat of the day when the 'cave guide' has gone for his long French dejeuner there is nothing else to do but sit it out. And sit, and sit.

Eventually, his lunch consumed and in the nick of time, because those boys' boredom levels were approaching critical, our man returned. We paid our francs and he unlocked the grille which was the door which led down into the cave's hidden depths.

Ah, there is a welcome drop in temperature almost as soon as we enter. We follow our guide, grabbing crude handrails to prevent a fall on the sloping uneven path. The strong sunlight does not penetrate this far, soon we are in darkness. The guide's torch flickers and bobs and eventually flashes onto a wall to pick out the outline of beasts and the stenciled prints of mens' hands. We are privileged to be an arm's length from the art of pre-historic man in this place of magic and mystery. Was the shiver that went through my bones merely the drop in temperature or the wonder of these iconic images? For me, as ever, there are more questions than answers: why here? why in the depths of this rocky place? And the sheer practicalities of taking flame and pigments somewhere so inaccessible - if it's difficult now, what must it have been like then?

For me, utterly memorable. I'm not sure now if anything as undesirable as the public are allowed in such close proximity to such irreplaceable art works so treasure that visit. My boys? Now men they do remember sitting on the bench - though I do wonder if they have more recall of seeing the photograph than the experience.

We emerged from the cave - back out into the heat of a French afternoon, cicadas clicking and the scent of tinder dry scrub. Back into the 20th century and for the lads a splash around in the swimming pool and probably a barbecue supper. Just one of many French holidays - but the only one with pre-historic bison.


flwrjane said...

You didn't crib anything, you just joined the party!

And I'm so glad you did, that picture captures the moment you write so eloquently about.

Thanks for joining in!

We'll be doing this once a month so get ready.

xo J

Bare Mtn Farm said...

What a wonderful adventure and so well told. Great photo!

Pondside said...

I enjoyed that - candid shot and real life narrative. I'm sure your sons have some memory of this - if you could be a fly on the wall someday to hear one of them explain 'Yes, I saw that one day when I was a boy.....'

Jen said...

Such a sweet picture and memory. (I have 3 boys too.)

Cro Magnon said...

Many of the caves here are now being closed to the public; and not only Lascaux. Others that have been newly found will not open at all.

Susan ~ Southern Fascinations said...

So pleased you joined the party! The photo is wonderful. No doubt your boys have specific memories of your adventure. Smiles...Susan

rachel said...

What a wonderful memory! Worth waiting in blistering heat, I guess. Glad you're back in blogworld too; don't go away, will you!