Monday, September 22, 2008

The Transhumance:Part 1--Exactly What Is a Transhumance?

Just too much happened yesterday to cover in one single post so I'm going to break it up into a number of sections. Probably three, maybe more. 

Background stuff first. In Latin, "trans" translates as "across" and "humus" means ground. In farming terms, it means moving your herds and flocks to higher pastures in summer and bringing them back to the valley in fall. A mere agricultural exercise? You must be joking. Like about everything else around here, the biannual transhumance is just another excuse for a long communal meal. 

Most of the transhumances we've read about started very early, very far away and involved (said friends who had been to one) a very long hike to keep up with the animals. This transhumance was local, about 15 minutes drive away in the village of Le Sautel and basically involved meeting and greeting the sheep as they were driven through the street. 

Some hapless drivers didn't realize what was going on and had to sit in their cars while the sheep milled around them. From the road, they (the sheep) were then driven through a gate into a meadow where they waited while everyone went off and had lunch. 

We probably could have climbed halfway up a Pyrenee and met them coming down but we were distracted by a vide grenier where we were able to buy the plates we had forgotten to bring. 

See Part Two.

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