Friday, April 01, 2005

spring prayer for Rudai

Returning from a starlit walk on Tuesday, we saw our neighbours Nadine and Manuel draw up outside our house, faces tortured and tear-stricken.
"On nous a empoisonné les chiens"

In a month where a guest at their gite died of a heart attack walking in the Ventoux, a friend committed suicide, and they were forced, on the first day of spring bloom, to put down the dog which was as old as their love, this was simply too much for them.

Out for the evening walk with their two schnauzers, Lily and Rudai, on the same circuit of oak and olive trees, red sand and thyme we take Manon and Oscar, the dogs started to vomit and suffer severe diarrohea. Four minutes later they collapsed. The vet, when he injected them to make them vomit, found two pieces of ham with a black powder he presumed to be strychnine. He sent the dogs straight to Carpentras where they were kept over night and given a blood transfusion.

In the morning, we went over to find out the news: Rudai did not make it and was dead, and Lily was hanging between life and death. Julian helped Manuel to dig Rudai's grave, wondering if they should dig two, and I sat in the kitchen with Nadine as she called the police, the mairie, the chasseurs and the vet, unable to comprehend the violence and the injustice of it.

In our peaceful idyll, protected as we feel we are by the mountain, and amongst such gentle humble folk, this poisoning is profoundly shocking. The same morning we watched a new lamb suckle outside our house against a backdrop of almond blossom, and the first cherry buds close to bursting. Our guest's son Toby 'saved' a lizard from Manon's clutches and gave it 'rescue remedy'.....

Life and kindness go on and for a moment we forget, until suddenly the four open doors of our friends' red car remind us of their mourning.

I remember a day when Julian and I were first at the scene of a fatal car accident. It was slightly later on on in the spring and Provence had it's best frock on, spattered with blood-red poppy fields. It was a day which was simply too beautiful for death, for a family to lose a loved one, for bones to be crushed by metal and a last breath to be squeezed out of a human life. It could not be, but it was.

Manuel came to the door last night to thank us for the flowers we left for them.
"Il ne faut pas nous acheter les fleurs; C'est vous, les fleurs."

Life, and human kindness do go on. Even amongst those who mourn.


Blogger Katia said...

I'm absolutely bouleversé. What a sad story.

Life does go on, the seasons change, and we appreciate the differences these people, and these animals, make in our lives.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous caroline said...

Oh how sad. Your poor, poor neighbours - who would do such a terrible thing?
I am glad for them that they have your love and support. How is Lily???

11:11 PM  
Blogger kim said...

That is so sad. Some people are just horrible.

I'll send out good vibes for Lily.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Arrgh, that's simply appalling!

9:56 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

thanks for all your kind words about lily. i will pass them on to our neighbours. lily is doing better, but with severely damaged liver and kidneys and on medication. it seems that the whole thing has something to do with rabbit hunting, with the poison being laid out just by a place where rabbits were being bred. all terribly jean de florette.....uuugh.

10:17 AM  

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