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Posts Tagged ‘Hermitdom’

You may have noticed something missing from this blog so far…The clue lies in my description of myself as a hermit.

Yes. No humans!

There is a very old book in French which describes the area in which I live thus: « Ce pays des plus escarpés, des plus boisés…le Désert, n’était pas sans attirer des ermites, désireux de beaux paysages, de solitude…une région paienne ou était tenace la croyance aux fées… » Roughly translated, this land is a wilderness of forests and steep, rocky places, which attracts hermits looking for beautiful countryside and solitude…a pagan land which clings on to the belief in fairies.

My nearest human neighbour lives in a house called ‘L’ermitage’, the hermitage. (My nearest actual neighbour is not human, but a Fairy Queen called Quasnon who lives in a palace of rock. You will meet her in future blogs.)

I don’t really need to encounter humans very often. I grow my own veggies and fruit, make cider, pommeau and calvados, have hens for eggs, meadows for hay, a well for water, goats for fleece (the latest in neolithic fashion!). And then there’s barter. I swap the hay that I don’t need for firewood and grain (poultry feed and bread making) and give board and lodging to some rather beautiful cows in exchange for their milk and cheese. Honey comes from an old man in the forest who keeps his own bees (bee hives…next on my list of ‘things to do’) and in addition to the forest’s own bounty, mysterious gifts of mushrooms appear from time to time left outside my door first thing in the morning…

Even the internet flies magically in all on its own!

Little need to venture into Humanland…except…COFFEE. And pens…and loo rolls.

As for humans venturing into the forest… My nearest village is an interesting place. Isolated, surrounded by forest on 3 sides, and straddling lands which were once the border between France and England, a priory was built here in the C13th, because it held on stubbornly to pagan beliefs long after everywhere around had converted to Christianity. The priory is now largely ruins, except the part that is now my house…

I don’t know what people’s idea of French peasants is in general, but my experience has been one of surprising open mindedness. After seeing the broomstick outside my door one day, a neighbouring farmer, who refers to people from the next village as étrangers (foreigners), turned the conversation to les sorciers/sorcières.

« It’s fine », he said. « I know you’re one of the good ones. » He took another appreciative slug of my calvados. «A previous owner of this house was a ‘circler’. He could heal a wild animal just by circling them. He was a good one»

« Are there many bad ones? » I asked curiously.

He shook his head. « They don’t last long. Bad things happen to them. »

So…back to humans. No one comes here because they’re ‘just passing by’. I live at the end of a tiny road to nowhere, which branches off a tiny road to almost nowhere, which forks off from a slightly less tiny road to maybe somewhere eventually.

No one, that is, except Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I am prepared.

A car arrives at my gate. Jehovah’s Witnesses.
JW1: (sees sign) « Dragons? »

Me: « Yes »

Pause. JW1 laughs nervously « Is that a dragon? » Points at golden retriever.

Me: « No. A dog. »

Another pause. JW1: « Do you believe in the garden of Eden? Myth or fact? »

Me: « In my world myth and fact are the same thing. »

Blank expressions.
Me: « The garden of Eden is all around me…as are the dragons. »

JWs beat hasty retreat.

Humans. Bizarre.

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