Sunday, January 24, 2010

Latest avian construction

Alongside my bird-house, I've just erected a bird-post, designed to carry three balls of fat and seeds at a height that Sophia cannot attain.

Both the bird-house and the bird-pole are both becoming popular places for mésanges [tits].

Now, if you want to see what my compatriots think of the perfectly normal English term tit, to designate birds of the Paridae family, use Google with the words "Australia tits".

Last night, there was a small New Year ceremony at the town hall of Choranche, which enabled residents to obtain the latest news about the risks of rocks rolling down from Mount Baret. I asked Bernard Pérazio, the locally-elected regional councilor, whether a project for a tunnel beneath the Trois Châteaux promontory above Pont-en-Royans was a purely science-fiction affair. First, he informed me (surprisingly, needless to say) that his only recollection of such a project was a vague line that somebody had once traced on a local map, which he had seen furtively many years ago. In other words, our man in charge of all past, present and future civil-engineering projects in the region was apparently unaware that such a project might be feasible. Nevertheless, he answered me precisely: "William, from a technical viewpoint, the project you evoke is not at all science fiction. But it soon becomes science fiction... from a financial viewpoint." Fair enough. That was better than hearing him say that I didn't know what I was talking about. I ventured a comment concerning the current situation: "Bernard, if we had a short tunnel from the other side of Pont-en-Royans through to Choranche, the current problem due to rocks rolling down from the summit of Baret would not bother anybody." Bernard's instantaneous reaction proves that he's totally obsessed by the threat of falling rocks. "We would soon have rocks rolling down from the Trois Châteaux onto automobiles emerging from your tunnel." I didn't bother trying to get into any further discussion with Bernard, who's obviously in a constant state of anguish A few minutes earlier on, he had admitted, in front of us all: "Whenever my phone rings during the night, I'm always afraid that it's somebody who's about to inform me of yet another rockfall."

At the end of the speeches, we all gut stuck into delicious traditional Epiphany tarts, made with ground almonds. They were accompanied by sparkling white wine [called Clairette] from the town of Die [pronounced dee], down on the edge of the Provençal Drôme region. I was amused to find that Monica, the ex-wife of a former mayor of Choranche, was running around collecting all the crumbs from the Epiphany tarts. "It's for my mésanges. Throughout winter, I have to feed about fifty of them in my garden." I was almost jealous, but I didn't say so. At Gamone, at any one time, I never have more than half-a-dozen mésanges in my garden. The difference, I think, is that Monica's garden lies just alongside the River Bourne, with dense woods on the far side. So, it's an attractive setting for tiny winged visitors... including bats, apparently. Maybe, though, I might look into the idea of baking Epiphany tarts for my bird-house.

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