Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Finding His True Identity - Eleanor Shepherd

A drive south from Paris to Lyon and then west towards St. Etienne takes you into the Massif Central, the heart of French Huguenot country.  It was in this Protestant area that the resistance was particularly strong during World War II.  Drive into the Massif Central and you come to the town of Le-Chambon-sur-Lignon.  It was here that the members of the Reformed Church acted heroically during the War in a massive clandestine effort to smuggle thousands of Jewish children out of France to Switzerland and safety from certain extermination in the concentration camps.  Today, in the town square, there is a plaque in French and Hebrew expressing the gratitude of the State of Israel for this action.  When we lived in France in the early 1990’s Le Chambon, as it is known, was the site of a deeply rooted tradition in the French Salvation Army of summer gatherings and a national camp program.  Each summer, young people came to the area for a series of camps, the final one being the national music camp at a campsite known as Les Barandons.  It was to this locale that Beau repaired with his family each summer for the camps that Glen, in his work with The Salvation Army, was expected to oversee.

The camp is located about a kilometre and a half out of town on the crest of the mountains.  A large forest surrounds it. About 400 metres to the east sat a hotel.  Apart from that, all was forest.  The noble hunting dog loved to be unleashed and left to romp through the woods, returning periodically to check out his humans and to see if any food had been prepared.  His skill at table scrap begging as the campers sat about enjoying a four course French meal and a slow café led to the necessity of his being tied up during mealtime.  But during the day it was freedom in the country – the life for which the noble pooch had been created.

Beau lost no time in reconnoitring his terrain.  He discovered that other dogs, linked to other humans in other lots frequented the woods.  On a couple of occasions his humans made the gaffe of coming upon him as he enjoyed the companionship of a female of the canine race.  Summer camp was for dogs too!

Above all, Beau made his mark as a bona fide member of the camp community. Friends like Jean-Blaise Fivaz came to appreciate his enterprise and speed.  They saw in him the dog who loved his native land. Beau was, after all, the only French-born member of the Shepherd household. And so it was, that Jean-Blaise concluded that Beau’s identity should be officially confirmed à la Française – with his own carte d’identité.

The card was done on a large poster board – with a portrait instead of a photo. The portrait showed his big dark eyes, his long black nose, and his alert pointy ears.  He looked ready to spring out of the drawing.  His birth-date was noted and the department (78, les Yvelines) where he was born was incorporated into his identity.  The music camp community gathered to admire Jean Blaise’s creative work.  And the noble dog, with his flashy red scarf tied around his neck by Elizabeth, looked on approvingly – a cross between the artistic insouciance of Charles Trenet and the fire of Charles de Gaulle.  As for the rest of us – we were just foreigners, passing through his native land.
Word Guild Award

Word Guild Award

No comments: