|The Chateau of Badefols d'Ans back in the|
time they still grew grapes here....
|Our main street, perhaps about 1916|
In the middle of a relentless rainstorm
on Tuesday morning, I was trying to look a the news on line with my morning coffee and suddenly, the internet just froze...then I checked my ADSL box and it was sending out it's light show indicating that it was making a futile attempt to reconnect..A few minutes later, a car pulls up and it is my neighbor down the hill asking if my email is working, nope, hers neither. That's reassuring, because I know it is a system problem, not me.
So that's that. I have things to do, I have to roll two bales of hay down from the barn for the neighbors horses. I have some graphic work to do. I want to work on some furniture pieces, bring in firewood...walk the dog, again....
In fact, it's suddenly almost time for lunch! After lunch, the neighbor comes by in his tractor and we load the hay. I am tying up the door of the barn when a car arrives and it is a visit from our friend Claud. He is a 81 year old Marchand de Bien...a disappearing profession. He arranges sales of property and handles the legal work for the people here in the countryside. He was born here in Badefols d'Ans and his father was a mayor. He has done well for himself, a Marchand de Bien usually makes a part of the deal he arranges...a parcel of land here, a falling down house there. It mounts up. He's a pretty interesting fellow. He and his wife are members of quite a few organizations devoted to the preservation of Occitain Culture. They play musical instruments, the cornis which is a sort of bagpipe and his wife plays the vielle which is an instrument which is cranked and has wooden keys. They are the traditional instruments of the music of rural Southwestern Rural France. Occitain is the Patois, the pre French latin tongue spoken still by the peasant population. On his way here, he had to drive the kilometer or so from his house on our little road and he saw the problem...a huge tree had fallen and taken down the line and was partially blocking the road.
We were happy to see Claud, and he had his cell phone with him...I have to admit, I don't have a working cell phone, so we called France Telecom and told them that the tree had fallen our phone line, but it was about 3:30 pm and the day before May 1st...which is one of the biggest holidays here in France. It really is Workers Day, so fat chance if we were going to get any workers to come out here. Claud is a great story teller. We count on him for the real background tales about our village history. I invited him in. He got a computer for Christmas before last and now he is an email addict. I asked if he wanted a drink and poured him a glass of Pineau. We began to talk about the Movie Jacquou Le Croquant which he had downloaded off of the internet. He didn't think it was at all like the story by Eugene LeRoy but it was very pretty. He began to talk about Eugene LeRoy who was born near here and then he told us a story about a Hamlet called La Rochette. I go by La Rochette on my bike all the time on the road down to St. Agnan. It sits on a ridge overlooking the valley which the Chateau d'Hautefort dominates. It was abandoned for years an now a rich American has bought it and is restoring it. It even has a small church. The story took place in the mid 1800's. It seems that one day some workmen were working on the church, trying to hang a new bell and having a lot of problems. A man was walking on the road with a rucksack and stopped and offered his advice. They listened and let him help. The bell was hung perfectly in no time. The lord of the hamlet thanked the man and said now that they had the bell hung, all they needed was new priest as the old cure had just died. What luck! The passerby said he was a priest! He had the job. After he was there for a while, he told the lord that he needed a servant. Not too old, not too young, but nice looking. Soon the Cure had his servant who became his mistress. The people thought he was a very holy fellow because at night he would beat a pillow and moan and they would think he was whipping himself. He performed a certain miracle. He had a cupboard with a revolving shelf known only to himself. He would take a bottle, fill it with water and put it in the cupboard and pray. When he opened the cupboard, the water turned miraculously to wine! All his dinner guests were usually impressed.
|In the village, Badefols, looking down the hill, circa 1900.|
The Bishop of Hautefort asked him where he was ordained and he told them Toulouse.
No one ever thought to question him because he was so well liked and obviously a great and holy Cure. He lived to be a ripe old age, but when he died, the Bishop tried to find someone to contact in Toulouse and sent his name and description in case there were relatives. He got an answer from the authorities that the man they had thought was their Holy Cure in reality was a criminal wanted for the murder of a priest and he had stolen his identity 35 years earlier!
With that, Claud started laughing until he was gasping! "He killed a priest!"...a typical Claud story. Usually he regails us with tales of hilariously botched suicides which amuse him so much he laughs until he is almost in tears!
He finished his glass of Pineau and had to get going. Say Hello to Mimi! Au revoir!
So, about 11 am this morning, I heard a truck up the hill...sure enough...the France Telecom guys were splicing the line...I'm back in the 21st century again!