Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Accident-Prone, but Great!"

Is how I just responded to Kala's "How are you?" on Yahoo.

It's that time of the year when the south transforms into a truly beautiful place. Pierre has also discovered the joys of rock-climbing, so we go together on most Sundays. To get to the site, we take the highway, the prickly-looking cystisus on the islands and borders for the moment made cheery by its early-summer yellow flowers. Whenever we turn on the minor roads, no matter how many times we've seen it, we still go "Wow!" over the spectacle of fields luminous with the red of poppies. (I like the French name better: coquelicot, the sound of a tease, or somebody tipsy, maybe even a little mad.)

Before we finally get to don those always too-tight climbing shoes, we must hike through mountain paths. I can never resist playing explorer/botanist. I identify some wildflowers, recently sweet peas and Alysse odorata. A length of sedum and an ear of cactus I pick up for replanting in my garden. Sniffing at some wispy pale green leaves, I establish that, no, this one's not a curry plant. A classic scene had the group in the parking lot, shouting my name and that of Karine's, wondering if we had gotten lost, only to see us make an appearance a few minutes later holding bouquets of wild rosemary and thyme. "Tonight I make bolognaise," I declare, waving my leaves of Thymus.

Noting my liking for plants, on more than one occasion another climber has warned, "Apol, don't touch the rue, okay." Then the concerned one would go on to say that the herb contains a chemical that can hurt me.

So it was last Sunday and we are up on some rocks again. The view at Narbonne--grape vines in the foreground, the sea beyond--is great. However, a moment comes when I can't appreciate it. I'm stuck on a wall, having difficulty finishing the last few meters of a climb. I know I'm going to fall, realize that I'm going to swing a bit. It's fine, I'm not scared, I tell myself and let go.

Deep scrapes are nasty. Epidermis gone, you're hit right at the nerve endings, making you bite your lips, stomp your feet, claw at the arms of the nearest available person, anything to keep from screaming in pain so loud they might just come, the firemen who are France's version of 911. I have various injuries running from the fingers to the elbow of my left arm to show that I know what I'm talking about. I thought I'd end up shaken, hanging in empty air but unharmed. Instead, my fall was interrupted by a rather violent grating against a protruberance.

Don't touch the rue, they keep telling me, it can hurt you. Now why did nobody warn me not to touch the rock?

P.S. Okay, we all know I'm vain, so it's no surprise that 20 minutes after the accident I was demanding that somebody take a picture of my arm. Take my word for it, close-up the limb looks like a chewed-up saucisson:


Makis said...

That's what I call living!!! Show me your existence scars when we meet up :)

haze said...

Trekking is exciting ! Come on, let's plan and hike at Calanques in Marseille ;)! You will love it Apol ! Scar means courage !!!

tommpouce said...

you're utterly mad :-))
Toulouse is getting there too. Warmer days, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky sky. Whatever the boss tells me, it's pantacourt from next week onwards. Period.