Monday February 9th 2015. Chatelraould-St. Louvent 22 km

Eten met zijn zessen in Le Chevalier diner the 6 of us in Le Chevalier
Lunch stop Friday
Lunch stopArrival at our landlady on Friday evening, awaiting the blacksmith and the associated press My landlady

After the good, ample breakfast in the living room, while continuously being served by my friendly patrone, I quickly did some shopping, a brief filming, recording the beautiful tiendhuis half-timbered, picking up Leon about 800 m. up the mountain, and again we went on the way. In our Dutch Epen we also have a tiendhuis in timber. Centuries ago tenants had to bring one tenth of their income to the landlord in feudal times. That doesn’t seem too bad to me, when I think of how high the tax rates are today: up to more than 50 % in the Netherlands. But in those times it all went to one master, while now it is also used for communal well being.
Last night my landlady used her magnetism for the scratched fur on Leon’s neck. Indeed this morning it was a lot better. Et voilà, she said. On the other hand last night Leon was in an almost round box of round aluminum rods, in which he could not scratch himself. Et voilà, I thought. That’s how I do it.
Today I walked easily. The animals also, but again no place to get coffee. It was very quiet on the small country roads. A car stopped to ask where I was going. En route choked the cranes, “grues” in French, which populated the fields. Close by is Europe’s largest artificial lake, constructed in order to provide Paris, in case of drought, with water. Three villages have been moved therefore. We are talking about Lac de Der. The lake seems to have become a stopping place for thousands of cranes on their way North and South. All day you saw them everywhere: on the fields and in the air. In the afternoon it was gloomy gray and I was not particularly happy. The coziness of the last two weeks I miss again. But the thought that I am ahead of plan and that in a little more than a week the successive visitors will join me gives extra courage.
A few km. before arriving in Châtelraould I was overtaken by a young man (60) who was going for a walk. We walked a few km. together. He talked without stopping. He had just retired and for a while he didn’t do much; he told me he had run his mom’s farm for years after his mother’s death. That he had a couple of bee hives and that if the European bee disease would continue, all plants would not be able to flourish and the world would perish. He used to pick eatable vegetables along the way, but he did not dare any more because of the chemical sprays on the fields. If he bought those crops in the store those were of course also sprayed. Also he said that he and his bride got married in Châtelraould at 8 o’clock in the evening and that they wanted to go to bed, the way a good bride ought to. I could imagine that. Oh yeah, while chatting time goes by pleasantly and my knowledge of French language and ancient French marital customs is practiced properly.
Arriving at my sleeping place, La Petite Auberge, a beautiful half-timbered building, the patron was calling friends for a place for the horse. Soon he had found something at a friend’s, but it was half an hour walking away and 30 more minutes to walk back. And tomorrow the same of course. But Leon now does have an entire meadow at his disposal. Along with the old bread this morning and the litlle left over concentrate, Leon wearing a rain blanket, I feel I have well taken care of him. Tosca is outside waiting for me to let her into my room tonight after diner with the consent of the owner. I like her to wait there, ouside, now, because if I let her in now she will ruin the interior even before the night has started. So for the time being Tosca will have to wait outside.
I find these half-timbered villages beautiful, but also a bit sad. It so clearly illustrates the transience of cultures: vacancy, decay, the end of the agrarian society. Makes me reflect on one of the reasons for this journey, viz. My so-called back to basics. Along with the idea of living basic also goes a somewhat romantic conception of primitive life. But during this trip I discover that there’s little romantic to basic living. For the poor basic living means no food, no running water, cold houses, inferior clothing, exhausting work, no car, often tricky beasts, much more sickness and death, both at home and in the stable, more filth, stench. In retrospect the elderly call the necessary hardships virtues, with the stories about how beautiful life was in the old days. It is good to make such a trip. One realizes just how luxurous our lives are: good housing with warm and cold running water, central heating, telephone, radio, tv, car, refrigerator etc.
Most of the time I’m mentally engaged in “infrastructuring”: what time I’ll be in the next village? I walk okay, right? How fast we are walking? What time will I arrive tomorrow? Depends on the length of the route tomorrow. It also determines at what time I will have to go to bed. I’ll have about 25 km. to go. Anyway, first concern is sleeping where? For this, I look at the I-pad and therefore I need wifi again and a not malfunctioning phone. I agreed to meet visitors / followers in Rocroix at the Belgian-French border in a little while. Do I still walk right on schedule? And further, this trip often is a matter of lonelyness.
There is not much more to say about today. Maybe after dinner. I booked for tomorrow in La Chaussee-sur-Marne and the day after tomorrow in Juvigny. Tosca is allowed in my room.

cranes hardly visible cranes hardly visible / Grues is cranes  La Petite Auberge La Petite Auberge, my sleeping place, with farmer’s car that brings me to horse pasture [/ caption]  My host < / a> My host [/ caption]

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