Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunny weekend with Manya

This weekend, my daughter brought the sunshine and blue skies to the Vercors, which is rare at this time of the year.

Yesterday, we went out walking in the Coulmes forest, up on the nearby plateau between Presles and Rencurel. Sophia was excited by the autumn aromas of the woods and the scents of unknown animals.

My dog transmitted her pleasure to me. I'm never happier than when I see Sophia happy. And I often suspect that the feeling is mutual.

We had to be wary, though, because a hunt for wild boars was under way in the woods, as indicated by this warning sign:

We chatted briefly with several hunters, primarily to make sure that we weren't wandering into dangerous zones. Their replies were friendly but false, in a hypocritical sense. They never actually tell you to leave as quickly as possible, along with your dog... because that kind of talk, addressed to hikers such as us, would earn the hunters a bad reputation (worse than usual) with the authorities in charge of the Vercors nature park. So they give you the same instructions in a roundabout fashion. Specimen: "Be careful of your dog. The boar that we're hunting attacked and killed no less than four dogs last week." A half-truth, no doubt, but we got the message and turned for home.

In the middle of the wilderness, we came upon the ruins of a school:

The French Republic erected this elegant building in 1911. My neighbor Madeleine tells me that one of her aunts was educated there. After the Great War, alas, there were fewer and fewer inhabitants in the Coulmes, and the school closed down forever in 1928.

On the way home, in Rencurel, we admired this small stone barn, in a pure Vercors architectural style. Stone slabs form steps above the gables, enabling the farmer to climb up and push snow off the roof.

In the same neighborhood, we found a splendid old house in ruins:

After our sunny outing, we were happy to return to Gamone, for dinner alongside a log fire. Today, my home is attractive and comfortable. When I purchased the house in 1993, though, it too was almost a ruin.

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