The hour-long snow-storm yesterday turned to sleet by the early evening, and the whole lot froze during the night. The roads were covered this morning in a layer of ice, and all goods vehicles, buses and coaches were banned from French roads until around mid-morning today. At last, a thaw has now set in.
Jean-Claude has parked his car in my car park early this morning, since it is impossible that he would get safely down into the canyon. So once the morning fog has cleared I go out into the sunshine to seek him out. In truth my main reason for going out is to enjoy the sun and relative warmth of the thaw, but J-C is also a collector of badges, pins to be precise, and the wife found one that we acquired a while back in Canada, when they were bidding for the Winter Olypmics. So when I find Jean-claude I can give him the pin.
I meet him half-way up the hill and we discuss the weather. It seems I got off lightly yesterday evening. I was driving back from Montsurs, and got back at about 8:30. He also came back from the same area, but just a little later, about 9:00 by which time the roads had frozen. He came back at a crawl and it took him ages.
We are chatting beside the field with the aurochs in, and they are standing around, staring at us. "They're thirsty" says J-C. "How do you know?" I ask myself, but he is right: their water barrel is frozen over and there is nothing for them to drink. He has left a big wooden beam in the barrel and the ice has frozen around it, so that even if the ice is thick, he can move it, exposing the water underneath. Just as soon as he does this, the aurochs have their noses in the barrel, and are slurping away.
On the trail of the lesser-spotted Jean-Claude (because I don't spot him all that often)
Got a drink, mate?
Just the ticket