Salt Festival, Piran

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What a beautiful day for a festival!  What a beautiful thing to celebrate!

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Salt, the most simple thing on earth, and at the same time the fuel and flavor of life.  “Why is salt so important, Mom?”  Well, smoked salmon, pickles, and Cheetos, to name a few.  But it’s also what makes muscles work and what makes the heart beat.  It regulates blood pressure and drives osmosis in our kidneys.  We live by the rhythms of our blood, sweat, and tears, and the greatest part of these is salt.  Human beings are really just highly organized, walking bags of salt.

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Harvested in the pans off the coast of Slovenia, salt is one of civilizations most ancient crops.  Could there be any better cause for a holiday?  We felt lucky to be in Piran this weekend to view the ritual.  The ceremonies began a few miles down the coast before arriving at the town by parade.

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I like the village parade.  Especially when they have accordians and tuba players.

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Along with music and a small stage, the square had been decorated overnight with banners and rolled vine leaves.

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After the arrival of the salt, there were speeches and endless protocols which always seem to take a little too long.  The kids up on stage were distracted with patty-cake, and the dancers were making small talk.

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Are these people grumpy because I’m taking their picture, or because the mayor is talking too long?

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The salt harvesters were standing ready with their long salt sticks.  If we didn’t know we were in Slovenia, we might think we were in Asia with the paddies of rice and the round, cylinder hats.

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Or in the land of the Cossacks because of the costume design.  Maybe the Cossacks got their design from Slovenia?  It would make sense if the Italians were involved…

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Eli noticed this cello looked a little funny, with only two strings and a very unique bow.

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Say Cheese!!

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Surrounding the festivities, a farmer’s market had sprung up with vendors selling lavender, smoked sun-dried tomatoes, and huge rounds of homemade cheese.  We bought half a kilo.  Cheese makes a nice travel buddy.

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Gift shops sold seashells and scarves in all colors, and little ceramic dishes painted with fish to serve olives and grated Parmesan.  Flea market tables had also multiplied overnight.  Outside our apartment we walked past old books and tin flour boxes, cut glassware and fluted candlesticks, and silver spoons just like the kind everyone’s grandma used to keep in the china cabinet.

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The market lined the entire block!  Mike bought the boys pocketknives for Cub Scouts.

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Mike is the best Dad.

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There were activities for kids too, and he helped them make their Salt Dough come alive.

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This lady made Mommy come alive.  She has my dream job!  Old and weathered, anchoring the world through tradition, and cultivating joy by turning out thousands of doughnut fritters for parties.

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We bribed Jake and Eli with a third bag of doughnuts to go and talk to someone in German.  Good job boys!

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For the rests of the day, Piran was busy, full of music and salt displays and thousands of people just sitting and sipping carafes of spritzer.  It’s like a dream world, where nobody has anywhere to go or anything they’d rather be doing than just sitting and visiting with friends.  There is such value to this concept of sitting, with the goal only of connecting to another person.  They weren’t even eating.  Just sitting with their drinks.

I like this.  I like the idea of simply inhabiting one’s space, of being busy by making conversation that cannot be rushed.  Of exploring ideas that don’t exist, unless they have time to surface.

Here in Piran, life resists rushing, and I don’t want to rush it either.

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