Friday, October 25, 2013

Choranche pathways

In my blog post of 18 September 2013 entitled Country lanes [display], I indicated that the mayor of Choranche and his municipal councillors may have stirred up a hornet’s nest when they decided to open a public enquiry into the possibility of transferring the ownership of various public pathways into private hands… and, particularly, into the hands of the mayor himself (a cattle farmer) and some of his close councillors. Well, the "poor fellow" hit the jackpot! And everything is blowing up in his face… to the amusement of rural newcomers such as myself.

As I suggested in the above-mentioned blog post, I’m not experienced in grassroots political activism, and I’m simply too old to get involved in such stuff. Besides, it’s difficult for me to tolerate people whom I look upon as fools. My personality is not exactly that of a diplomat, and I soon get hot under the collar when I find myself in opposition with the opinions of other people. Let’s say that the Creator never intended that a lowly earthling such as me should get involved in any kind of politics. (In fact, God once suggested that I might be better off getting involved in the priesthood, until I told him to kindly fuck off, and allow me to make up my own mind about what I should do with my life.)

Let me get back (before being drawn into the higher realms of theology) to what I was about to say: namely, that I’m not in fact one of the revolutionary host who have been marching past our village hall with pitchforks in their hands, ready to storm the Bastille if ever our mayor refused to liberate the pathways of Choranche. But I approve wholeheartedly of all that they’re doing, with great skill and determination, and I’m lending a constant hand in the backdrops. In other words, I’m just as liable as any of them to be guillotined by the authorities, or maybe assassinated by furious peasants.

This afternoon,  down at the Rouillard Bridge, in glorious weather, I met up with six friendly fellow citizens of Choranche: Aimée and Bernard Duret (owners of a lovely guesthouse in the village), Henri-Jacques Sentis (former mayor of Choranche), Georges Marbach (internationally-renowned speleologist) and my close friends Tineke Bot and Serge Bellier. Our mission was to explore Greenery Lane: the pathway that was the subject of a document that has received enthusiastic reactions at all levels, from the community of municipalities alongside the Bourne, right up to the Vercors Regional Park. You see, although I quickly lose control of the situation when I try to speak with others, I remain a perfectly competent writer (often with the help of Christine and Emmanuelle), capable of winning friends and influencing people. And my simple paper on Greenery Lane (for which no personal credit is due) apparently rang a bell in the minds of many folk.

This afternoon’s mission was a total success. Not only did my friends discover all kinds of visual hints (under the expert guidance of Henri-Jacques) enabling them to detect the existence of the ancient weed-covered pathway as it winds up the slopes, but they started to clean it up, cutting away piles of branches and throwing boulders out of the way.

At one point, we ran into a couple of strands of barbed wire, blocking the pathway, dating from the time when my neighbor Gérard Magnat had cattle. Earlier in the day, I had phoned Gérard, who confirmed that we were free to cut through this barbed wire. So, in front of a bank of cameras (well, let’s say, at least one smartphone), I took a pair of wire-cutters out of my bag and cut through the barbed wire, saying: “I declare officially that Greenery Lane has been reopened.” The crowds cheered, and my donkey Moshé brayed. Champagne flowed… at least in our minds. It was a lovely afternoon. And Greenery Lane will soon become a magnificent pathway for romantic wanderers.

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