Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Simple thoughts that soar into the air

To demonstrate pictorially that she was thinking of her big brother (that's me), one of my dear sisters has just sent me this nice photo, taken during her recent visit to the USA, of a FedEx van in Miami:

I can sense already that the airwaves are filling up with a huge question: What the hell does a FedEx van in Miami have to do with an Aussie recluse who lives in an Alpine wilderness in the south of France? In a nutshell [forgive me for overusing that metaphor, but my farm-that-isn't-really-a-farm-at-all is covered with scores of walnut trees, and I spend days every September picking up nuts], my sister has heard me express my admiration for these international delivery organizations, which not only deliver urgent stuff on the other side of the planet (important for an Antipodean such as me), but allow you to use the Internet to follow every step of the transport operations.

There's an expression that annoys me: snail mail. There's nothing snailish whatsoever about the giant aircraft that take off from places all over the planet, often in the middle of the night, in order to get the mail through. In France, where the national organization is called Chronopost, the concept of international mail couriers evokes the heroic Aéropostale company, which became one of the founding partners of Air France in 1933. And the pioneering epoch of air mail leads us to think too of the great writer and pilot Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

In France, the name of this illustrious adventurer adorns the international airport of Lyon. But he is remembered throughout the planet as the author of The Little Prince, which is as great a work of imaginative literature (in my opinion) as Lewis Carroll's adventures of Alice.

[If you click the image to the left, a link takes you to a presentation of an opera on The Little Prince.]

So, I thank Anne for thinking of me while she was in the USA, since her thoughts (not to mention her photo) have led me in turn to think of wonderful exploits and people.

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