Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites Decided to go for a VERY long walk, to walk off the Christmas excesses, and vowed that the Galette des Rois that was baking in the oven would be the last until next year.

Next year we will eat less.

The period between Christmas and New Year is a strange time, a sort of limbo, a calm before the storm. I need to DO something. When I get home I’ll tackle the garden shed. A perfect task for a frosty morning.

As I walk I enjoy the coldness, the frosty fields, and the stillness.

In the distance, I see a man dressed in green walking towards me. As he gets closer I notice he has a gun broken in two (I know there is a technical name for this, but it escapes me), over his elbow.

A hunter.

Hunting in France is completely legal. Some men hunt alone, others in groups with or without dogs. To my left, in a stubbly cornfield, I see three lovely big pheasants. “Fly, fly”, I will them. But they don’t. The hunter has also seen them, but he doesn’t move his gun. We pass, say bonjour, and continue. The pheasants continue to scratch around in the once-full cornfield. I look around, the gun is still crooked over the hunter’s elbow. Why didn’t the hunter shoot the pheasants?

I reach the end of the field and there I see a notice… “Chasse Interdite” (Hunting Prohibited). The pheasants are safe… for now.

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