If you go down to the woods today…..

Apart from the discovery of a wasps’ nest in the wall of the house, today started well. The dogs and I were strolling down the sun dappled sandy track that leads into the depths of the Forest of Mervent. On entering the forest we passed a man made fishing lake and entered into a bit of whispered bonjouring with fishermen who were in fact not pleased to see us at all but made a grumpy effort to be genial. I”m all for grumpy efforts to be genial so that stood well with me. The dogs barked loudly in bonjouring as they haven’t learnt to whisper while barking  – I believe it’s called wharking but neither of them can whark so the fishermens’ grumpy efforts of geniality froze into genuine emmerdement. We three, we happy band of brothers and one sister, buggered off smartly. Things change quickly in life and it’s often hard to see the join. Over the crunching of sand and sticks under my feet and bustling and snuffling of the dogs I thought I could hear singing or at least music. We stood quietly listening and slowly the muted strains of the  Marseillaise took form. As we walked further into the forest I could make out the hushed voice of a priest conducting prayers and then a congregation singing. As you drive down the twisting road that leads through the Forest of Mervent there is a sign at the side of the road that points to “La Stele des Martyres de la Resistance”. I have visited this little memorial in the heart of forest on many occasions since my arrival in France. Five local boys of around 19 years old, four of them members of the Resistance and one civilian, were led to this clearing on August 17 1944 and shot. They would have walked down the same sunny track on which we were walking, each with their own thoughts in their heads, as they went unwillingly to their appointment in Samarra. Photo taken from internet article by Patrick and Dominique Deslandes http://deslandes85.unblog.fr/2011/11/17/la-stele-des-martyrs-foret-de-mervent/

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Digital photography, dog walking, France, French countryside, friendship, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, The Forest of Mervent, Vendee, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to If you go down to the woods today…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    …and then, what did the dogs do, or was la Marseillaise enough to calm the French poodles for the rest of the day?

  2. Sinclair 3168 says:

    That was a sudden change from chuckling to gloom 😦 It looks like a nice peaceful spot to be remembered in.

  3. Rachel says:

    I have seen this sort of monument in the forests in the Pyrenees… gives me goose-bumps to remember but never forget… merci!

  4. Another sad story….I remember coming across a memorial like this in the French Alps. The scars of that time remain. Profound, shocking suffering, really.

  5. I’ll be excited to take a walk tomorrow afternoon in my neighborhood. The entire weekend I’ve had various planes whizzing by my building because of the Chicago Air & Water Show. I’m jealous of your peaceful sounds.

  6. Eha says:

    With your brilliant prose and wry humour you took me back to childhood days when parents covered their offspring’s eyes whilst guns were suddenly pointed at innocent heads. . .

  7. Tandy says:

    We noticed a lot of these stone memorials dotted all over, so sad! Love the term wharking, I will have to teach my dogs that one 🙂

  8. Sally says:

    I loved this tale, s
    o skilfully told. I live (mostly) in the Paimpont forest, and was on that walk with you with all my senses, the lightness of spirit, nature, the French locals, then a haunting reminder of the past. Whenever I walk in the forest here, I feel the company of many ancient times.

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