Wednesday, March 17, 2010

La Romieu

La Romieu_24, originally uploaded by bikouniou.

There are cats everywhere here so I had to do some research to find out why.

"Angeline and the Legend of the Cats

In the year of our Lord 1338, in a Gascon village called LA ROMIEU, renowned for its beautiful collegiate built 20 years previously, Vincent and Mariette lived contentedly. He was a woodman and his wife often accompanied him into the forest to make up bundles of faggots. They worked hard, and with their poultry and pig, their fruit and vegetable garden, their table was always laid full with food.

They had been married for 3 years when Mariette gave birth to alittle girl, whom they called Angeline. Alas, one day Vincent was crushed by a tree he was felling. Inconsolable, Mariette sank into a depression and 2 months later was found dead, holding little Angeline in her arms. The little girl was taken in by a neighbour and was brought up with their children like one of their own.

Angeline showed a great affection for cats and their were always one or two around her which at night even slept in her bed. She also often shared her bowl with them. With the passing of time, Angeline became a healthy young girl who helped her adoptive parents in fields, always accompanied by her cats.

In 1342 and the 2 years that followed, the winters were harsh and the spring and summer so wet that it was impossible to sow their crops. There followed a great famine and inspite of the distribution of the collegiate reserves by the lord Arnaud d'Aux, the inhabitants soon had nothing to eat. They thought of the numerous cats in the village and set about catching them. Angeline's parents, knowing how much she loved hers, allowed her to keep a male and female cat on the condition she hid them well, as the neighbours would gladly kill them. Angeline, therefore, shut her two cats in the attic by day and at nignt she let them out to hunt. But the famine grew worse and many villagers died. Angeline and her parents barely subsisted by collecting roots in the woods and sometimes they found mushrooms but it was hardly sufficient. Weakened by hunger, they managed somehow to survive this terrible period and more clement times finally arrived, allowing them to harvest what they needed to live.

But in LA ROMIEU where the cats had disappeared, the rats proliferated to a point where the crops were once again threatened. Angeline, with infinite caution, had been able to hide her cats in the attic and they had produced several progeny. There were now about 20 of these cats. The villagers wrung their hands over the damage caused by the rats. Angeline announced that she was going to release some 20 cats which the inhabitants would be able to adopt. The rats rapidly disappeared and it is thus that Angeline ressembled more and more, with the passing of time, that of one of the cats and that her ears transformed into the ears of a cat."

I can't upload my own photos here but I have borrowed this one.

Today was a 19 KM walk in the very warm sunshine and tonight I'm staying at a private Gite Le Couvent de La Romieu, an old converted convent. Beautifully done, I'm cooking for myself tonight and I even have company, a couple just arrived that I met on the trail yesterday.

March 22 I'm finally able to upload my cat photos

Cats of La Romieu

Click the photos to see more on Flickr.
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