Foll de Roll
It was The Venomous Bead who unwittingly reminded me of my father stalking his small children and afterwards his grandchildren and terrifying them as he growled ‘I’m a Troll, Foll de roll’. This might seem a peculiar introduction to a story but I promise you, it has relevance. Possibly tenuous. But a relevance. The picture was taken on Thursday … Two Brains and I were on our way to a light walk near St Etienne de Chomeil of which more in a later post, and this beauty happened to be in the road wondering slightly desparately which way to scamper. We noted that in two days it would probably be a gun rather than a camera it faced since the hunting season opened here yesterday and we wished it winged feet and guile to avoid the orange and camo-clad hunters who will stalk it til the end of February. As you can see it fleetly rehearsed its escape across he fields to the nearby woods.
I’m a Troll? Folldy Woll? What the … ? It’s the story of the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ for the uninitiated. The Troll that terrifies the goats lives under the bridge and the relevance is this … I have three Billy Goats of my own to tell.
Early summer and The Bean and I walked up on les Orgues de Bort. We do this more than occasionally and it is a lovely walk. We see the massifs in the distance and the Dordogne snakes below.
We have passed a field of pygmy goats often and in fact my youngest daughter has insisted that we need stunted goats when we find our forever house. This day in May I turned a hair-pin bend and came across a baby pygmy in the road. He didn’t want to be there and was bleating loud, plaintiff and continuous. All his field mates were helpfully and gustily returning bleats. There was a fair amount of traffic on the plateau and I didn’t want a squishered goat so I set about finding his owner. Simples – there are only a couple of houses. Cars were bearing down on me so I turned on my hazards (the car was across the road where I had jammed the anchors and leaped out with goat-like agility and it is yellow so frankly unmissable) and walked purposefully to the nearest house. The goat bleats. I shout. In vain as it turns out. The goat bleats. I turn tail and walk down the hill aware of the hostile drivers blocked by my car. They can be forgiven for clearly believing the goatlette is mine. The Bean leaps out of the car. I call her manfully to heal and surprisingly she obeys. The Goat is less obedient so I nip back to the car and grab Bean’s lead thereby reinforcing the illusion that the goat is mine to the increasingly hostile queue of cars. I noose the goat … the goat continues to bleat. The Bean trots purposefully at my side clearly cast in her perfect role and I can’t shake Julie Andrews warbling ‘High on a Hill lives a lonely goatherd Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo’ – my obsession with the songs of the Sound of Music is well rehearsed with my children – in fact it was an effective torture when I wanted to get them swiftly to school as smalls but it proves less effective with actual goats. Lesson learned. I knock at the door of the only other house in the vicinity. A young man answers. ‘Is this be your Goat?’ I demand in my traditional Spanish Cow French ‘Mon Dieu – yes’ he replies (in actual French) … he grabs it, does not say thank you but is clearly overwhelmingly grateful and rushes off to find out how the devil it managed to break free. Though not exactly feted I feel puffed with pride that I have saved this tiny goats life.
That is my first goatee story.
This Friday my husband took me out for dinner. We rarely do this – partly because we are rarely together which is not as we wish it to be. I dressed up. So did he. We looked damned fine to be fair. The Salle de Fete (I have told you this before) is in my garden (actually the garden and the building belong to the village but in my mind they are be mine) …. there was a party brewing. We stood aside as my young neighbour screeched up the drive in his pick-up … he is young, this is his normal modus. As he stepped out of the truck complete with kennels on the back, I said ‘the hunting season starts, no?’ and he responded automatically ‘demain’ (tomorrow) and then I heard it … bleating! From the kennel on the back of his pick-up there clearly emitted a bleating. He noted my noting and said ‘it’s my brothers birthday – that’s the party’ (it was his 25th it turns out) …. a strange explanation for what he showed me … two sweet little black and white pygmy goats in luminous orange collars with bells on. He rushed off wihout further commentary. We drove out for dinner delicious. Today I ran into his girlfriend and asked how the party went (the last men were still just about standing and shouting amiably at 7 a.m incidentally) She rolled her eyes magnificently as she told me it was a triumph – apparently the young birthday boy had been led to believe he was getting a pair of hunting dogs for his birthday. The pygmy goats dressed in their hunting attire were presented to his chagrin and the delight of the assembled gathering.
So there you have it …. three Billy Goats. Though none of them Gruff I would give them all a home any day and the deer can have my sanctuary though I fear I have nothing more than wishes and prayers (though I’m not a praying woman) as we embark on the next six months of hunty mayhem across France.
PS: I took The Bean for a walk in the village today (the first weekend of the season is NOT the time to be out and about walking in the wilds) and a chap bearded me for a chat … down from the Somme he told me he has an Irish Setter with which he hunts. I asked him why he was not out on this important weekend … it turned out that in the North they started the season last weekend and he had come down to join the frollics at the Salle de Fete – his cousin’s son’s birthday … guess what, he said – they promised him two good hunting dogs and gave him a pair of goats – how hilarious is that? … I didn’t disappoint him by telling him I already knew.