Today was a trudgery, a long walk along straight roads with receding horizons. It was a day when a bend in the road was the next best thing to a beer.
No, it wasn't my finest hour. Perhaps because I didn't have a coffee this morning, or perhaps because it was overcast and drizzling as I left the gite, I found the day heavy going.
Bradignan is on the the outskirts of Bordeaux, and has little satellite settlements of its own, so it took me a while to reach the open countryside. Then it was road walking through pine forests or fields of corn. I plodded along.
No, I didn't plod. Plodding suggests a certain rhythm to the step, a certain determination, a certain optimism. You can hear the soft, steady thumping of the foot on the road.
I trudged. Words have magical connotations and connections because of their sounds. You trudge like a drudge. Trudging has a touch of shuffling and suffering about it. Trudging can become stumbling and tumbling. You trudge across a muddy plain. You trudge through sludge. You trudge along a dirt road with the light grey colour of the soil matching your mood. You trudge in a straight line to get where you want to go. I trudged.
There were several minor diversions.
In the forest, I stood for a while and watched two men working in a wood lot. One was using a front-end loader to drop logs onto a set of rollers where a second was feeding them into a saw. The chopped wood would then fall onto a conveyor which carried them up and into a truck. The wood was then used for fuel.
As I passed through the corn fields, I noticed that the crops were irrigated by those huge, arched machines that move across the field in tracks. But how do they move? It would take at least three tractors, one on each of the huge wheels. And that would destroy the crop.
And then I came upon a perfectly flat field that looked like a suburban lawn the size of several city blocks. It was, or it would be. Further down the road, a large truck was being loaded with strips of turf. What a waste of agricultural land! How vain we are! Let's cast a few seeds about instead. So what if we don't have the best lawn on the block!
And there was a dead tree that was now the resting place of many birds.
In Barp, there are two gites: one run by the municipality, the other, private. I decided on the latter, because it offered demi-pension, but it turned out that she was not cooking tonight. So I walked into town to have a meal at the local brasserie. They kindly offered an English translation to the menu. I settled for the "crudeness plate", but decided not to have "the pavement of kangaroo". That delicacy must have been especially imported road kill from down under.
On the way back from the restaurant, I ran into a couple of young Italian girls who had stayed at the gite in Bradignan. They were just arriving, five or six hours after me. I took them back to my gite where the hostess Elisa was kind enough to take them in at a reduced rate. Delighted with their room which had roses growing around it, they said it was like a fairy house. "I am a fairy," said Elisa. I don't think she was joking.
The world according to Barp is stunted forest, waterlogged ditches, marshy swamps and mosquitos. Does one burp in Barp or barf in Barp? One must not carp in Barp.