Rural life in France, along with its smells and sounds, and is now ‘Cultural Heritage’
By Regina B. Jensen, Ph.D.
Please don’t ask me why my Danish husband is fascinated by German news, this time about French law no less. So this is the latest article he sent over from his home office to mine, where we “reside” and send each other news: “Did you see this, Honey?”
Well, it appears that Maurice, the now famous rooster who caused this new French law to come into effect last week (the equivalent of our “passed the House and the Senate,” I suppose), is now deceased. But long live Maurice, the rooster who started it all.
His dear owner had to fight when he was still alive and crowing, and actually went to court so he could continue his morning songs (my husband calls his mini-rooster Marvin’s sounds “singing”). It appears that too many city folk coming from Paris (make that L.A.) were used to sirens at night, but not to roosters crowing in the morning and sounds of sheep, such as my mini-sheep,who bleat dependably when they see my husband walk by.
Now, Maurice could crow his heart out, says the article “because the cock-crow, the mooing of cows and the bleating of sheep” will be part of France’s Cultural Heritage in the future — because France now has a law to protect noises and smells in the country.
It appears that Maurice became somewhat of a media star a few years ago, when a retired couple were bothered by his “morning-celebration of life” and went to court to silence him. Other communities followed suit, sometimes about rural smells, sometimes about rural sounds that city folk disliked.
My city-neighbors once were so upset about my favorite mini (tea-cup) rescue piglet, that they caused the death of him.
“We are ALL five very upset over here”, they said, ganging up against my pig, also named Maurice, who had been very frightened by something and got stuck under their fence and, confused, went from there into their horse paddock and no, the horses, as I watched him pass through their place with them sniffing him, were not upset by “little-old him” whatsoever. (Maurice, my gentleman pig who would try to get into my kitchen!)
Losing my Maurice was the trauma of my life (plus caused me to lose the $500 it cost me, all-in-all, to get him and his brother Max with hired help in a day-long trip way up in far-away Oroville!!) My Maurice thought I was a princess and I believed him. The princess and the piglet! (My husband never thought I was a princess!)
Back to the French law, which says that vacationers were even bothered by church bells ringing! The article said “an enervated lady from Paris even demanded that the crickets chirping in the evening in the village she had chosen as a retirement home should be killed with insecticides.”
Bless mayor Bruno Dionis, of the 400-souls village of Gajac in southwest France, who started an initiative called “The sounds of our country.”
My dear husband often says “What can one man do!?” Well this man Bruno, and Maurice the rooster and his dear mistress, did do a lot.
“Those who live in the country have to accept some irritation,” he said, and the article ends with: “Many farmers are now breathing a sigh of relief, because the law not only declares the ringing of church bells or the chirping of crickets to be characteristic. The smell of pig or horse stables is now also part of typical French country life.”
The author, Dr. Jensen (German!), is a former psychotherapist and trauma therapist, enjoying her retirement and only working with what she calls “old” clients and her students, while running between her animals bleating, crowing and smelling.