Dianne and I are spending a fair amount of time in our rental car. The point of this journey is to SEE rural France. So we take the back roads when we can. But our recalcitrant GPS, whose voice we have begun to affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) call Brigitte, keeps trying to take us on the big highways.
So then there’s a fight – Dianne against Brigitte. Brigitte always remains calm, even when we are frustrated. At times, it takes getting off the road to play with the GPS, though Dianne eventually finds a way to get Brigitte to do what we want.
But sometimes it seems that Brigitte is getting back at us. The latest trip comes to mind, where we tried to take a shortcut across a section of France. Brigitte dutifully redirected us, despite what she might have thought about the dubious route.
The road was quite rural, with farms very close at hand, or rather, wheel. The horses we passed seem so close that they could hit the car with a swish of their tails. We could almost smell the cows’ breathe, and could definitely smell their merde.
The road became smaller and smaller, just a bit more than a car’s width. At times we were sure we were on some farmer’s driveway.
It was along a wooded one-lane section with vegetation boxing us in like a tunnel that we came face-to-face with a huge cutting machine. Luckily, he was moving slowly enough that Dianne had time to back up (the only thing we could do) to reach a small indent in the woods next to an open field beyond some aggressive barbed-wire. She expertly backed into the tiny spot, wedged so that we could no longer see the lane.
We waited about three minutes, expecting the large machine to rumble past us any moment. Thankfully his blades were working the other side of the road, so there was no concern that he’d cut off a side-view mirror. But he never came. My egress was obstructed by the barbed wire. “Dianne, look to see where he is,” I whispered. She climbed out of the car and looked down the lane with an astonished look. “He’s gone – disappeared!”
She edged the car back onto the lane and we continued our journey. We saw no exits, no roads where the huge machine could have turned off, not even a driveway. And we were certainly moving faster than he could have, if he were trying to back up to give us room to pass. Queue the Twilight Zone music: do do do do.
Brigitte withheld her judgement, and took us back onto a larger road. Meanwhile, I give thanks that Dianne is driving. You couldn’t get me to drive here for love or money. Besides, I get to take pictures from the passenger seat.
For other essays on our rural France journey, see:
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