13 miles on iPhone, but officially 17. 9 km
Blue skies, light breezes and varied scenery made today much better than yesterday. Tonight we are sleeping in what was once a horse stall at a gîte operated by (according to his self-description in our MiamMiam DoDo guidebook) a ”pelerín ancien,” although he is considerably younger than we are.
We’ve just had a nice, simple dinner, and I’m having a hard time staying awake although it is only 9:30 pm.
The other guests are a young French couple, and the two women we first met yesterday on the digue, and whom we hadn’t seen since. Their names are Isabelle and Genevieve, and we will stay in the same place with them tomorrow.
Notable sights today: orchards of plums, peaches, and apricots — fruits already picked—apples still on trees, and grapes already harvested, but with a few low-hanging clusters at the ends of rows along the road, to which we helped ourselves.
We walked along the shimmering blue water of an irrigation canal, encountered a large number of domesticated pigs, rooting happily under trees in a forest mucky from yesterday’s rain, observed a few lovely white horses, and encountered some very fierce barking dogs, two of which escaped their fence and came after me. I turned and faced the, and looking into their eyes held out one hand in a stop motion, and shouted at them, « Non! » and « au revoir! » while I walked slowly backward, not wanting to risk s nip in my calf, until finally they turned away.
Finally, we came to eerily beautiful, totally burned forests, still smelling smoky. There had been awful fires in this area over the summer. At first I thought the oak leaves had just turned bronze, but then I realized this was the fire we had read about.
Upon entering Vauvert, one of the first places we came to was a house with a menu du jour posted outside. We entered through a courtyard, climbed an outdoor flight of stairs, and were welcomed by a. Pleasant woman, even though it was near what must have been her 2 pm closing time. We shared one meals of salade miste, poultry and pasta. We drank 3 bottles of table water, and luxuriated in sitting in chairs at a table for the first time in two days.
There was so much more. As I walked I composed prayers for two friends confronting cancer, Anne and Anita, much-loved by many and so generous to others. May they be healed, but if that is not possible, may God hold them in his loving arms and give them peace and comfort. I prayed, too, for my friend Monica, also wise and generous, that her recovery from a stroke may restore some of the wonderful talents now eclipsed. And for my friend John who has lost his lifelong partner, Karen.
Now to sleep, so I’ll have strength to walk another day.
5 thoughts on “Day 2 Saint-Gilles-du-Gard to Vauvert, Monday, oil 23 September 2019”
I feel the love you have for your friends. How tender of you to compose prayers for them. I did read one if Anita’s posts and sense the woner of her.
The Carmargue Cross is beautiful, evoking love, moon energy, and power.
Great photos !
A decade or so ago we were on one of our European trips and Susan bought a walking book in case we decided to walk too. We did n’t walk muchh. However we kept the book and below is some text we remembered about dogs. We thought it might be of value in case you encounter another unfriendly dog.
Fred and Sus Mosedale (envying you and your walk
I had never used a stick until halfway through a walking trip in the Loire valley where, in an orchard early one foggy morning, I picked up a handsome branch that had been pruned from an apple tree and placed in a burn pile by the resident farmer. Once I had trimmed away the side limbs and rounded the narrower end with my pocket knife, the stick proved to be nicely balanced in the hand and comfortable to carry. Later, when it had been burnished by a combination of oils from my skin and friction with my hands, I became so attached to that stick that I have since carried it back and forth across the Atlantic many times. Leaning against the wall in my office at home, it has become a sort of talisman, a prod and reminder that it is time to go walking again.
/Why bother to //c//a//r//ry a sti//c//k? /There’sthe conventional reason as a third leg it helps with balance on a steep stretch of rocky trail or when crossing a small stream. Balance is always less sure with the top-heavy weight of a pack. A stick is also useful for knocking some of the moisture off dew-laden branches overhanging the trail in themorning. But the main reason that I carry stick is thatI have found it indispensable when dealing with the rare but startlingappearance of a loose dog.
The French are careful to fence or chain their dogs, and the walker will seldom encounter one that is not restrained, Many people, particularly those living in isolated homes in the French countryside, will keep a dog to guard their property and they fully expect that dog to bark when strangers approach. The intention is that the noise will frighten a potential intruder and warn the proprietor, particularly at night, that someone is about. While almost none of these dogs are trained to bite, many of the larger ones seem quite intimidating.
The rare loose dog is a confused dog because the accustomed limits–the end of a chain or the edge of a fence—are gone, but these dogs are easily frightened away or at least kept at bay by the tapping of a walkingstick on the ground or pavement. French dogs are stick savvy and wary of anyone who carries one; even the most aggressive dog, once it has heard your tapping and seen your stick, stays well out of range of any potential swipe while allowing you-as you carefully maintain eye contact with the dog-to continue along the trail until it stops barking and turns toward home after you have left what the dog considers to be its territory. For this reason alone-to frighten the rare loose dog-I believe that at least one person in every group should carry a stick.
It’s not necessary to forage for and then shape your own stick as I did, though doing so can be quite satisfying. Sports stores now sell telescoping walking poles that, when collapsed, are much easier to carry back and forth across the ocean inside or strapped to the outside of a pack. These manmade sticks are of course considerably more expensive than a free branch, but the folding pole is perhaps worth the money for its ability to disappear into your pack when not in use. If you do purchase a high-tech stick, be sure to choose one with a rounded tip; airport security may not allow you to carry anything as sharply pointed as a ski pole onto an airplane.
/France //on Foot//t /
Thanks, Fred! I enjoyed this. I always have two sticks for these reasons, but the walking so far has been so flat, they are collapsed in the pack. I lamented their inaccessibility during the dog encounter, as I usually hold them behind me to forefend a nip on the calf.
A decade or so ago we were on one of our European trips and Susan bought a walking book in case we decided to walk too. We didn’t walk much. However we kept the book and below is some text we remembered about dogs. We thought it might be of value in case you encounter another unfriendly dog.
Fred and Susan Mosedale (envying you and your walk