When I’m on a roll and doing the right thing by my back (my G.P. freaked when I said I was discovering the merits of beer and wine over prescription pills to ease chronic pain), I get out and walk.
Up and down and around the numerous ‘chemins‘(paths) of our local village after dropping Lilas off at school – or if I’m at home, I lock the door behind me and head out for a wander around ye olde hamlet. There’s nothing better for head-clearing than getting out and enjoying the sights and smells and sounds from the viewpoint of your feet (I haven’t yet embraced the bike-thing, despite obvious inspiration from the many folk here in Frogsville).
And now more than ever – with the hunting season is officially over, I can walk panic-free.
It sounds crazy but believe me, there’s this dodgy period of the year, from September to the end of February, when delightful shots ring in the air and I freeze and cower behind some vines. The hunters are out. Crouching like a ninny, you wonder if your bulk in a huge brown puffa jacket ressembles more wild sanglier (boar) than human. Especially when you’re not much taller than a wild boar – and on all fours (ooh la la, I won’t start). Here little piggy.
I’m not joking, accidents happen all over France each year during hunting season. You can find any number of stats on the net, one of which claims 57 hunting-related deaths in the 2012/2013 season (up from 42 in the 2011/2012 year). But the stats, depending who is reporting them, vary: the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage cites for 2011/2012, 131 hunting-related accidents of which only 18 were mortal, for eg. And don’t forget the 9% concerning ‘non-hunters’…
It’s a topic charged with anger on both sides of the fence. I wonder which side this author is hanging on…
Yes I’m confused, and wary of the propaganda – but when you’re out there enjoying the cacophany of shots whilst stepping over colourful empty shell cases, I wonder what my odds are. I should maybe don a red beanie and have a plastic red rose held high, a la the travel guides shepherding their groups around the grand squares of Europe.
On the less extreme end, some groups simply argue for a ban on Sundays (most accidents occur on weekends)… This leads me to wonder why Wednesday (with Saturday and Sunday) is also nominated as an’open’ hunting day of the week – when it is, all-over France, the mid-week day-off for children from school? Can’t say I’m itching to take Lilas out for a walk when you can see the camouflage khakis and gun cocked on a guy strolling not that far from the kitchen door.
But hey, on the whole I have no problems with hunting if regulations are respected. It’s incredibly popular here in the Minervois and you see a big proportion of the villagers getting involved. It’s almost like a religion. And these guys are outside, enjoying the elements (and the odd bottle of red) and providing some of us meat-eaters with food on the table. Probably better than frozen nuggets, pot and a few hours of Playstation in a dark living room .
So onto those walks. Like I said, the season has offically ‘closed’ and the hunters are at rest for the next few months at least. The piggies et al can relax – and me too.