An early morning walk in the forest brings local news.
PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPSTHE FOREST WORLDFRENCH CUSTOMS AND LOCAL EVENTS
I begin this morning, the very first morning of my blog from France, by devouring the online British news. B. however, who is neither U.K. born nor bred and proud of his newly acquired French citizenship is scouring ‘Le Monde.’ While I still need news from ‘home’, I feel sure that he will keep me informed of crucial events in our chosen domicile. A little later , as the bells of our village church chime eight o’clock , we encounter a source of more local news. Madame C is walking her dog in the woods that surround our house when our paths cross. All three of us determined to exercise before the intense heat of the day strikes. Today’s temperature is predicted to reach 38C, but then what’s new? This heat wave began weeks ago, and is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. As August unfolds the grass and flowers wither around us, and the natural springs that well from the surrounding hillside falter and dry up. Madame C lives in the neighbouring hamlet. Our home is more isolated, and we rely on her for a bit of gossip. “The donkey has escaped”, she announces with alacrity. If we ‘fall upon’ the donkey we must inform Monsieur R. who is currently scouring the village in his builder’s pick up truck. We hope she will be recaptured safely, for we love to see her grazing in a nearby field alongside her pals, two white horses who have apparently stayed put. We’ll walk that way in the cool of the evening just to check on them.
Not long ago two different white horses grazed in this field. They were called Kyle and Luigi and belonged to an English neighbour whom we met from time to time as she rode in the forest. But earlier this spring Luigi came across a string of ‘processionary pine moth caterpillars’ . They had recently emerged from their gossamer nest in a nearby tree, and no doubt he investigated them with his nose. Alas ,he fell gravely ill. Even humans can have a serious allergic reaction to to the noxious spiky hairs that these creatures emit. And so sadly Kyle lost his long time friend. Now he grazes alone elsewhere.
I shall end these equine meanderings of my first blog with a further donkey tale.“What happened to those three donkeys we used to come across in the woods?” I asked Madame C. earlier this morning. For we had recently come across this inquisitive trio on our walks. I had noticed that one of the donkeys carried a wireless antenna around its neck, and presumed that they had been free to roam. “Ah non,” Madame C. disabused me. Apparently they too had been escapees. “ They belong to the new owner of le chateau." The chateau is really a fortified farmstead that dominates her part of the village. “He has recaptured them,” she continued “ and they are now safely confined.” As we returned home for breakfast we remembered with fondness these delightful companions who nudged us from behind with their muzzles as we descended the stony paths around us. Let’s hope they escape again so that we can enjoy their company once more on our daily walks.
All too soon we shall be coming across less welcome creatures, for the hunters' dogs will be milling around our forest home . On the fifteenth of this month, the hunters will pick up their rifles once more in search of sanglier, bringing their packs of hunting dogs with them. No doubt I shall have more tales to tell you of our encounters with hunters in my future blogs.
P.S. Our evening walk to the field revealed two white horses, but alas...no donkey!