In my first blog, I expressed my strong desire to retire and return to the farm so that I can devote my full attention to saving the planet. My wife, Karen, keeps reminding me to be in the moment. Our remaining time in France is short, she says, and the time will go quickly. We need to see and do as much as we can because we may never return.
Therefore, on Good Friday, we took a trip to Dijon. Dijon is the capital city of the historical Burgundy region in eastern France, one of the country’s principal wine-making areas. But it is probably best known for its traditional mustard. I still remember the Grey Poupon commercials of the past.
We travelled to and from Dijon using an on-line ride sharing service called BlaBlaCar. Drivers who are traveling to a destination can take on riders who help to defray their expenses. I guess it is how hitch hiking has evolved. This helped to keep our carbon footprint small.
In Dijon, we went to see the 13th century Notre Dame of Dijon cathedral, in the heart of the preserved old centre of the city.
The cathedral houses the 11th or 12th century Our Lady of Good Hope, formerly called the Black Madonna. This statue of the Virgin is thought to be one of the oldest in France.
However, it was not the inside of the church that I found to be most interesting; it was the outside. The Western facade of the church is adorned with 51 ghoulish gargoyles.
I was so intrigued by the gargoyles that I went to a nearby bookstore to see if I might find a coffee table book with close-ups of their grotesque faces.
In the bookstore, I didn’t find the coffee table book for which I was searching. However, I did find something totally unexpected. The bookstore had a large display to books related to permaculture! In retrospect, I probably should not have been surprised. To this outsider, it appears that much of French culture is influenced by customs and traditions surrounding food.
I had previously read that permaculture has become an international social movement. This was evidenced by my discovery in the Dijon bookstore. Michel Thill offers five reasons for permaculture’s diffusion around the world: Permaculture
- responds to a need of the time.
- was made to be openly accessible
- is highly practical
- applies appropriate technology and common sense
- embraces change and new ideas
It is motivating to think that we part of a social movement, embraced by people of the world, including France and the US, to help to save our world.