My donkey Moshé has been upset (disoriented ) by the recent disappearance of his old companion Mandrin.
It's a well-known fact that donkeys don't like to lead a solitary existence, so I immediately started looking around for an animal to keep him company. As of today, I'm happy to have found an ideal solution: a baby female donkey named Fanette who'll be available (that is, weaned) by the middle of October. This afternoon, Fanette's breeder, a young woman from Presles named Sylvie Rozand, introduced me to the beautiful little donkey.
In October, to get Fanette down to Gamone, Sylvie and I plan to walk down the slopes from Presles to Choranche. The road starts with a short but difficult section comprising a tunnel. Normally, donkeys refuse to enter tunnels, just as they refuse to cross streams. Sylvie has done this journey already. She tells me that Margot can be coaxed into entering this tunnel, while Nina and her daughter can be roped up behind and led along by Margot.
Fanette's father is a Provençal donkey owned by my Châtelus neighbor Jean-Marie Huillier (in fact, Sylvie's cousin), whose farm is located just across the Bourne from Gamone. By chance, I've been saying hello to this male donkey for ages, every time I drive across to Châtelus.
After leaving the donkeys, Sylvie invited me for a drink with her parents, in front of their old farmhouse in the village of Presles. My daughter Manya and I have known this couple for ages.
They're natives of Presles and traditional farmers, members of a race that has almost disappeared. Sylvie's companion happens to be a Welshman named William, whom I've not yet met. He's a professional shepherd, stationed for the moment in an Alpine context with a huge flock of sheep. In French, the operation that consists of a shepherd and his dogs leading their flock up to high-altitude pastures for the summer months is referred to as alpage. Then they all come down again to the valley as soon as the first snow appears.
This afternoon, I received an open invitation from William and Sylvie to drive up to spend a couple of days in their Alpine cabin, some three hours away from here by car. I hope I'll be able to accept this invitation, along with my dog Sophia. If so, a surprise awaits us. We'll be returning to Gamone with another companion, for Sophia: a pure-bred Border Collie pup.