Saturday, March 23, 2013

Strange fruit

Whenever a village is flooded, small boats arrive on the scene, seemingly out of nowhere.

Then, as soon as the floodwaters subside, the small boats disappear magically. One might wonder where they've gone. Where are they stored, up until the next flood, awaiting their reappearance? It's a mystery... as Christine liked to point out from time to time (so our children tell me).

In Pont-en-Royans, an old photo shows us a small boat on the Bourne, with fishermen.

These days, there are no longer any boats on the Bourne. I suspect that boating has become hazardous because of surges of fast-moving swirling water whenever the operators of the hydroelectric dam at Choranche decide to open valves releasing huge quantities of accumulated water. As in the case of flooded villages, the same question might be asked: Where have all the boats gone?

Yesterday, while wandering along the right bank of the Bourne, I found a partial answer to this question. At a spot roughly behind the head of the fisherman in dark clothes, I came upon an old boat (maybe the one in the photo) that had been hoisted up into the branches of a tree.

[Click to enlarge]

Although the context is far removed from the happy context of boat fishing on the Bourne, I was reminded of the title of a celebrated song by Billie Holiday, evoking the ghastly massacres of black slave workers in the American South.

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