This weekend British guy and I went to visit a friend of his who lives in a small village in the Vercors. This friend's house is one of my favorite places to be. It's stunningly beautiful, and this friend is one of those people you instantly like. He's calm, friendly and just a generally good person. He lives in an old farmhouse that he is restoring himself and the whole place just radiates peace and comfort. The setting of the Vercors doesn't hurt either. I would post pictures, but I, um, forgot my camera.
British guy had spent the morning with New Zealand guy at Lac Paladru. They swam, cycled and ran because they are very hardcore. I sat in the car because even though I long to be very hardcore, it was below 60 degrees, which is the temperature at which Californians cease to function. After British guy was done being very hardcore we caught a train to Saint Marcellin and cycled up from the train station to Froment where we had a lovely lunch in the garden, and spent the afternoon lounging in the sun. Suffice it to say I was très contente, and when British guy asked me if I wanted to pick some raspberries for dessert, I happily agreed and set off for the garden.
A little black kitten followed me and for a few minutes it was all very quaint. I was picking raspberries in the French countryside, the kitten was attacking my shoelaces, the cows lowed in the distance, and the setting sun cast a beautiful glow over the valley. And then I saw THIS
|I did not take this photo. I would never get close enough to this thing to take this photo.|
This person is braver than I am.
Ok, FINE! This is what I saw and it's practically the same thing:
|Again, I did not take this photo. This is a raspberry beetle. Go here for the original.|
It was on a raspberry I had picked. Meaning that I had touched it. Or come close enough to almost touching it. I threw it as far as I could and ran for safety. The kitten followed. She liked my shoelaces. While the kitten attacked my feet, I took a few deep breaths and tried to tell myself that I was being ridiculous. I used logic. This was a tiny, harmless bug. It ate raspberries, not people. As far as I know I am not a raspberry. Therefore, I was safe. The bug would not devour me.
Logic didn't work. I still felt somewhere deep down inside that the bug could and would devour me, but I went back to the raspberry bushes anyway. I stood in front of some wonderfully, ripe raspberries and tried to will my hand to touch the raspberry. The kitten ate a leaf. And then I noticed that the raspberries were covered in bugs. They were everywhere. My knees went weak. But I had no option. I could not go back up to the house and tell two men that I could not pick raspberries because....because there were bugs on them. I just couldn't do it. So I grabbed a stick and began knocking the bugs off the raspberries. I inspected each raspberry to make sure that there was no bug on it, picked it as quickly as possibly and threw it into the bowl. Then I had the clever idea of holding one end of the branch and shaking it violently. I was so absorbed in my effort that I did not notice the tiny, black form of a kitten crouching in the grass and slinking toward me. Until she pounced on the branch I was shaking and gave me a heart attack. Then she laughed. Because behind every regal and dignified feline face is a cheshire grin. Mischievous little beasts.
I took a few minutes to bring my heart rate down and then resumed knocking bugs off raspberries with a stick. I felt that I had nearly enough raspberries to offer for dessert. I decided that I would do one more lap around the raspberry bushes just to top off my harvest. But then I saw a grasshopper. A large grasshopper that I was pretty sure was planning to jump in my general direction. So I went inside.
The rest of the evening was spent eating delicious food, drinking wine, teasing the cat, and enjoying the special sort of contentment that only good company can bring.
Monday morning British guy and I cycled back to Grenoble. He tried to teach me how to draft. It went well for the approximately 30 seconds that I was able to keep up with him. Next time I'm going to aim for 40 seconds.