Saturday, 27 March 2010

Hunter Gatherers

The rural French have a close link to nature. If there is something that nature is offering for free they will be out there to make sure it does not go to waste. At this time of year the local villages make money out of daffodils, not by picking and selling them but by setting up a stall selling wine and other goodies, near a spot where people come in their thousands to pick these wild flowers. Each village jostles for the most customers by putting up competing signs ranging from large wooden daffodils to the more subtle and enticing signs simply displaying the magic word “Jonquilles”. Jonquilles/wild daffoldils The roads are made unsafe over the two to three weekends spanning the flowering period as loony daff hunters zoom around zigzagging across the countryside heading off to find the best spot to pick as many daffodils as they can carry, preferably not too far from a parking spot and of course as close as possible to a wine selling stall to refortify themselves after their hard labour of plucking these delicate blooms. Even on weekdays, the really canny pickers go out choosing a day that they think is the most likely to yield a good harvest. So the wine stalls are manned almost 24 hours a day to maximise sales during the picking weeks.

If nature were left alone, vast areas of forest around here would be great swathes of yellow, but the intrepid French have been out in their thousands, making sure this is a sight that no one will ever see. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but I can’t get my head around picking wild flowers. Since I was a small child it has been drummed into me that this is just not done, flowers should be left in their place for all to enjoy, not selfishly stolen for the pleasure of just one person. Having said that, in this instance, the French might indeed be right in what they are doing.

At this time of year (and for the coming month or so), my previously adopted homeland, The Netherlands, has huge fields in the north west that are ablaze with colour as the hyacinths, daffodils and then, more famously, the tulips come into flower. Whilst some of these flowers will end up in a vase, the vast majority of bulbs are being grown to be sold as bulbs. Tulip field So huge lawnmower like machines drive over the fields when all the bulbs have come into flower and the flowers are cut off, leaving only the leaves standing. This allows the bulb itself to strengthen and develop into a saleable product. The flowers are then dumped at the end of the rows as a splash of colour. So maybe what the locals around here are doing, is in fact beneficial to this wild species and not what I would call it - stealing from nature - I don’t know. In any case I couldn’t bring myself to pick even one little flower, it just didn’t seem right.
I did have a glass of wine though - just to support the local economy you understand!

Check out La Tuilerie Website for more picture of the fauna and flora around here.

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