Saturday 21 September 2013

What goes up must come down - the désalpe

Leading the cows down with a bag of bread
Today was the désalpe - the day when the cows officially come down from the high summer meadows where they've been grazing since June (see the inalpe). It perhaps marks the end of summer but more often the start of an Indian summer. Today was no exception with wonderful blue skies and warm sunshine.
Tying on the flower headdresses - not that easy
It's a great day of celebration with an early start on the mountain and a mass herding of the beasts down to the villages. Help is needed to try and keep them from stampeding - best left to the experts and to stay at the back with the slow ones...

A variety of flower headdresses
Once down headdresses of flowers are tied between the horns in true Valaisanne tradition. Then the parade can begin. Each cow led by it's proud owner through the village - there's clapping for best milker, cheese maker and then the bossiest one (the Queen) whose kept the herd in check. At the end of the village it's time to crack open a few bottles and sample some of the summer cheeses.
Parading through Ayer

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