As many of you know, the traditional morning activities here at the Moulin Ruel are the wood harvest and the continuation of the goat house. Today, however, was much much different.
After unloading the old Toyota, Alain, Martin, Patricia, and a friend named Guy hopped into the small four by four Suzuki and took off at a brakeneck pace across the Combe (essentially, the primary grazing field). Before long, the field gave way to the forest where we bounced over rocks and creeks until finally arriving at home’s spring. Alain then proceeded to show us the easiest way to cross the barb-wire fence before hopping back into the Suzuki and taking off in the other direction.
Having crossed the hunter-proof fence, we four remaining individuals walked up a back country road and eventually arrived at a recently paved road. Curiously, hundreds of spectators lined each side of the road. Why? It was the Tour de France!
A good friend of mine’s father often cites the idea of “serendipity” when an enjoyable situation occurs without planning; I cannot think of a better example than today. A mere stone’s throw from the house, the Tour de France passed, complete with its miles of publicity cars, helicopters, and riders. All we had to do was drive across Alain’s own land before we were in a prime position to see the show, which came in two parts. At first, hundreds of cars and trucks painted with the insignias of various organizations (Carrefour, Vittel bottled water, the national police service, etc.) pass throwing little objects to the spectators. I came away with a bottle opener while others got everything ranging from candy to hats. About a half hour later, the tension mounted as a car passed detailing the progress of the riders and saying that they would arrive in about one minute. Then, before I knew what was happening, a group of twenty leaders riding at forty kilometers per hour wizzed by. Another, primary group followed with over seventy riders bunched together, straining up the hill and practically sizzling in the afternoon sun. Finally, the last two belaguered riders crawled by to the applause of all watching.
Though the race took the better part of a day to observe and stopped us from pushing forward with our work, I am glad to have seen it. Serendiptity and all, it was a great opportunity that may happen only once in a lifetime.