Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Finding the Accordionist

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Finding the Accordionist

Article excerpt

The moment my partner, Mac, and I stepped from our rented Peugeot, we heard the accordion. Mac asked if the music was being piped over loudspeakers for mood and effect for visitors like us to the tiny French town. But the alluring scales and chords sounded live.

We had driven to a high mountain town called Hyelzas, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southeastern France. Our first stop there was the Rural Life Museum, a collection of structures that had once been a functioning farm. Although the buildings date from different eras--early 17th to early 20th centuries--they look the same: rough-hewn limestone walls, pitched slate roofs, paneless window openings fitted with wooden shutters. Many structures are linked by flights of stone stairs without railings, terraces, archways, and bridges, which make the complex look like a stage for a Gallic Romeo and Juliet--a production set not in the dense medieval core of a city but at the top of a mountain with undulating green fields and the wisp of a constant gentle wind.

Within these cave-dark dwellings--decorated with bee-cultivating masks and copper-bottomed pots and pans, scarred oak tables, and painted crockery--we kept hearing the accordionist.

Nearby, we spotted three teenagers--two boys and a girl--playing boules. Each toss resulted in a firecracker-scale explosion of dust followed by the click of the metal bails. Here, the accordion music was nearer, and the teenagers paused before each toss, singing snippets of the featured song--loudly and mockingly, but really because it was fun for them and they were showing off for us. …

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