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Sunday, 17 June 2012

CLEANING THE MOUNTAIN


Or “Montagne Propre”. If only I had had a camera! I pay for my skiing by using a discount card which is valid for 8 “stations” in the Pyrenees. At the beginning of the summer, volunteers are invited to each of the stations to comb the slopes looking for litter and bringing it down in sacks. Last year 900 volunteers collected over 5 tons of rubbish.



I have done nearly all my skiing at Cauterets but when the call for volunteers went out I decided to clean up at Luz Ardiden, a station not much further away where, I had been told that the runs would be just fine to improve my level of ability.  And having now walked them, I’ll give them a try next season.



Yesterday was Montagne Propre day and the weather was perfect; cloudless and hot but with a gentle steady breeze to prevent it being uncomfortable. Because of the late and unusual rain we had been having, the mountains were green all the way up. The “transhumance” – when the cattle and sheep are brought up from the valleys to their summer pastures – was only a couple of weeks ago so there was still plenty of new growth in the grass. And lots of flowers; white, yellow and blue.



We rode up to just over 7 000 feet on the chairlift and wandered back down 1 200 ft to the station. In the breaks from the chatter of French around me (I only heard one English voice all day – a man talking to his dog) the silence was near total except for the clanking of cow- and sheep-bells. A woman near me saw a marmot looking out of its burrow. Think “groundhog”. I may have heard two of them whistling to each other too. Yes, they whistle.



Between the 150-200 of us at Luz Ardiden we collected a small mountain of rubbish with quite a surprising amount of metal. How somebody managed to leave a 10ft.-long iron girder behind is somewhat perplexing.



Back at the station, a goodish lunch was laid on, with wine. It’s rumoured that our next season’s discount cards will be paid, as well. That would be a bonus.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Another Record

Ruth is spending the day drawing at the Fete de Mazeres.

It is the hottest we have recorded since coming to France. 48 degrees in the garden, 118 degrees F.