After several days of relentless walnut shelling, my ears ringing with the “tap TAP TAP” of the wooden mallet, I came to a halt. My back seized up on Tuesday night, deciding to go on strike, tired of the repetitive actions and positions.However, there’s no guarantee of a minimum service in this case. My computer looked like an evil torture instrument, my back wincing every time I glanced at it. Even food seemed unappealing. Sacré bleu!This is not like me. Customers are rare in January and everyone seems to be hibernating. How will we survive the bleakness?!!!That’s it… I thought: I am doomed to become one of those stooping, nylon-tabard wearing women,(a phenomenon I was unaware of before arriving in France), who doesn’t get out much, other than to proudly sweep her step and maybe buy turnips on the market – if she’s lucky.As you cross her path, you make a remark about the lovely weather. She replies “It won’t last” and walks off grunting to herself. You see her the next day and say: “you see, it has lasted the nice weather”. “We’ll end up paying for it”, she replies.
Today, my back pain had eased, somewhat, so Jean-Pierre forced me out of my lethargy. “Right!We are going to the top of Mont Poupet!”, a very popular place for paragliding. It’s just outside Salins, literally 5 minutes away. Its summit reaches 850m at the highest point.It was full of the resistance during the Second World War – the last remaining farm,on the mountain, was sadly burnt down by the enemy.It’s also famous for the international sporting event, “La Montée du Poupet”, where very courageous people actually run to the top. Reluctant at first, I quickly felt invigorated by the epic scenery and the cold air – making us feel alive again. We didn’t go all the way to the top, only walked 8 km,but it did the trick. JP made me laugh, practicing his pigeon English. I am apparently the meanest English native, in the world, according to JP, as I have not taught him the language of Shakespeare. My problem is that I have great patience with a class of 30 arrogant kids, yet no patience with my partner. Putting-up with his “English for Dummies” book, in the toilet, he has made some progress.”I put my hot on”, describing his gesture as he placed his beret on his head(of course, he meant “hat”). I made a remark about the scent of a fox, quite pungent in some areas on the walk, much to Milou’s delight. JP’s English version was “it smiles like a fox”, (“it smells like a fox”, obviously!). I laughed my way up the mountain. Milou was like a puppy again, rolling in the snow and darting off into the woods. I desperately tried to keep him on the track, hoping he didn’t run into a wild boar.When we reached the viewpoint, silenced and astounded by the views, I felt like a new person. On my return home, I rustled up a Comté cheese tart, very simply: puff pastry, Comté cheese,(as much as you like, to make it as cheesy as you like), one egg, some milk, salt and pepper; cooked in a hot oven until golden brown and risen.I think I’ll keep my nylon-tabard project for later.