My daughter's deep and earnest love of the Nain Rouge---the red imp who supposedly has brought bad luck to our town for three centuries---has only grown over the past year. Part of this is my fault, due to the purchase of (and frequent reading from) a physical copy of Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin's 1883 book Legends of Le Detroit, full of tough-as-nails coureurs de bois, phantom horsemen and French werewolves all living here in Detroit. That book led to digging up stories of other French "lutins," who are simply mischievous and magical hobgoblins that might tie your hair in knots during the night, but are certainly incapable of bringing an industrial powerhouse to its knees. According to my daughter, the Nain Rouge lives in cozy caverns under our neighborhood connected by tunnels where he keeps the neighborhood pheasants and rabbits safe from his troublesome pet foxes (who also pull his chariot). The steam that you see rising from grates is smoke from his fireplace (he must be cooking something). She grew indignant when she learned that the people who tried to banish the Nain Rouge with a costume parade last year were planning a second parade in 2011. "Again?" She asked. "We have to stop them."
We tried. Unfortunately there were hundreds of marchers, nearly all of them in costumes. She was very disheartened to see some her classmates and friends marching against her beloved dwarf. But she stood by her convictions. Deeply impressed by our friend Dessa's Nain Rouge costume last year, we painted a mask and found a little hat and adapted some our old red clothes into a little frock coat and cloak for her to wear. It turns out she looked EXACTLY like the real Nain Rouge. Be warned, he's pretty creepy:
When the march started, we zipped through the marchers with the dog wagon, holding a sign she made that said, "I AM NICE." Then we met up with the rest of the gallant and noble protesters and this little Nain Rouge stood her ground against a swarming mass of costumed revelers chanting for her to go away. Maybe once or twice she might have needed her dad to hold her after she saw a couple of guys wearing scary masks:
|[photo courtesy of the talented Vanessa Miller]|
I think she feels it was a successful protest. After all, it's been nearly a week and we have totally spotted the Nain Rouge happily going about his regular business in our neighborhood:
Here he is plotting his next scheme:
Oh yeah, and he was so unperturbed by the march and the banishment ceremony that he actually had the gall to start dancing right in front of us:
We actually caught about a minute of his dance on video; luckily we also happened to have an accordion and a fiddle with us, and combined with our deep knowledge of his favorite nineteenth-century Quebecois reels (this one is "Par vaux et par monts") it became quite a festive moment:
Take that marchers: You will never banish the Nain Rouge, long live the dwarf!