Thursday, October 7, 2010

Forces of nature

I've always known that the wind at Gamone can be an amazing force of destruction… although I have to admit that it only blows up strongly on rare occasions, no more than once or twice a year. (It's nothing, for example, in comparison with the north-westerly Mistral, which blows regularly down the Rhône valley, all the way to the Mediterranean.) Strong winds seem to blow into Gamone from the south, but that's simply because of the narrow southern corridor between Pont-en-Royans and Gamone, which is the unique opening through which winds from the valley can enter the cirque de Choranche. Once they're inside the giant cavity of Choranche and Châtelus, the winds bounce around haphazardly off the warm cliffs, concentrating their energy, which means that they blow in short bursts of a minute or so, spasmodically but violently.

For a long time, I've left a couple of old roof rafters posed on the lawn, supported by solid blocks, as a sort of bench. When the sun's shining, my neighbors Madeleine and Dédé are particularly fond of this place. Well, the other day, a violent gust turned all this heavy timber upside-down. In the following photo, you can see the marks on the ground where the greenish blocks were positioned.

A new force of demolition has arrived at Gamone. I'm referring, of course, to Fitzroy. Naively, I had thought it would be a good idea to install a lightweight curtain as a kind of door into his kennel, to attenuate the chilly breezes in winter. Well, Fitzroy doesn't seem to have appreciated this idea.

Meanwhile, I've succeeded in obtaining a few snapshots showing Fitzroy's new attack strategy, mentioned in a previous article [display]. For a small dog, the guiding principle is to go in underneath, while continuing to stand firmly on your four paws, and remaining as close as possible to the big dog. This means that much of your body is protected.

The danger, though, if your head pops out on the far side, is that the big beast can turn around and grab your snout.

So, it's wiser to go in directly from the tail end of your adversary. Wriggle in such a way as to force the big animal to spread her hind legs apart. Then, you only have to arch your back a little to raise the big dog's hind paws off the ground, which destabilizes her, and prevents her from turning around. Then you can calmly edge forward and nip her behind the front legs.

Be careful, though, not to move too far forward, because the big female can then bend down and get you.

Nothing stops Fitzroy, who continues his assaults in a non-stop manner. As for Sophia, she reacts as effectively as possible to all these strategies, but she gets fed up after a while, or maybe bored, and calls upon me to open the door enabling her to move back into the calm haven of the kitchen… which is out of bounds for Fitzroy.

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