Here is The Bean demonstrating the joy of being outside in uninterrupted open space. The grass tickles her underside, the sun beats down on her topside and she is solitary except for the necessary human behind the camera capturing her off-season delight at a mountain to herself. This was June last year but here it is mostly off-season
In the high range of extinct volcanos that spirals upwards to its climax at the Plomb du Cantal, July and August bring all manner of tourists. Hikers, bikers (those using their own pedalling power and those with petrol horses between their leathered thighs), caravaners, motorists and wanderers. For a couple of months it is difficult to get around without coming face to face with far too many bothersomes for my liking. I’m a bit schitzophrenic about tourism to be honest – I want it and encourage it because I want the region to thrive but I detest it because I have the soul of a hermit.
It’s a family trait – I remember well a holiday in Scotland. We normally went on that unseasonal cusp between Winter and Spring, but for some reason, this particular year, the sharabang north happened in August. We went to the gloriously named and, as it turns out, hugely popular, Trossocks. Each day my father got us out of bed earlier and earlier in the morning and drove us hell-for-leather to avoid the ‘wagons ho!’ of caravans in convoys sometimes hundreds long winding relentlessly towards whatever beauty spot had been picked by one of them and seemingly passed on to all the others by osmosis and which always seemed to coincide with whatever the parents had planned for our day out. From our hotel. In our estate car. With no caravan. We had no caravan. We did not WANT a caravan. The wagoners seemed quite happy to chug along nose to tail. We werent. Selfishly we preferred the wilderness to ourselves and would park the car and stride or, more accurately scramble for those of us on more juvenile, less emphatic legs, penetrating deeper and further into the hills through prickly heather and crunchy bracken and the odd morass of unsolicited bog, each day dragging our picnic bags and groundsheets and rugs to happily enjoy some family isolation. Every day, every SINGLE day at around 1 o’clock my father would bellow ‘bloody hell!’ as he spotted life trudging towards us. We seemed to magnetically attract others. I think the truth was that no-one else shared our desire to just BE in unperturbed nature without the company of strangers who, though Blanche Dubois took such comfort in the kindness of, sometimes, indeed mostly, one could not stand to be near. I haven’t changed.
Off-Season suits me and was the title of this weeks photo challenge … many finer interpretations can be found here
PS: The poetry lovers amongst you will have spotted that the title is stolen from The Lord Byron ‘I love not man the less, but nature more’ from There is Pleasure in The Pathless Woods which, albeit referencing the seashore and woodlands rather than mountains, pretty much captures my attitude perfectly.