Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Great Transhumance

This weekend is the Great Transhumance,* in which the French population redistributes itself to greener pastures. Le Bison futé, the canny bison who understands the peculiar migratory habits of the French, predicts godawful traffic jams:

Un week-end qui s’annonce chargé sur les routes de France dans le sens des départs comme celui des retours. Pas de vert à l’horizon.

Vendredi, les départs sont classés rouge au niveau national et les retours restent classés orange.

Samedi, bison futé voit noir pour les départs du 1er août sur l’ensemble des routes de France. Dans le sens des retours ce sera orange au niveau national et rouge dans le sud-est France.

Dimanche sera orange d’un point de vue national et rouge dans le sud-est de la France. Les retours resteront orange sur l’ensemble du territoire.

So it has been forever, and so it will be until kingdom come. Sarko himself is off to Cap Nègre, where he will find medically prescribed repose in the bosom of the Bruni-Tedeschi family.

The seasonal transfer of grazing animals to different pastures, often over substantial distances.
1911 M. I. NEWBIGGIN Mod. Geogr. vii. 179 The summer drought makes it difficult for even these hardy animals to obtain food, and necessitates in many regions a curious form of nomadism, to which the name of transhumance is given. Transhumance, still well developed in Spain, is the periodic and alternating displacement of flocks and herds between two regions of different climate. 1931 C. F. JONES South America 366 Government concessions to permanent ranchers, who do not desire the migrating flocks,..are reducing transhumance. 1954 M. BERESFORD Lost Villages vi. 204 Sheep which knew transhumance were not averse to being shepherded a score of miles over to a new pasture. 1975 J. G. EVANS Environment Early Man Brit. Isles vi. 133 We do not know to what extent these Bronze Age people were nomadic, or were practising transhumance, or were settled farmers.

1 comment:

kirkmc said...

Well, this great transumance has not been around forever; at best, it began in 1936, but I'd guess it really became common in the 70s. However, the poor Bison Futé has been wrong often in recent years, because the French no longer take month-long vacations, and most businesses no longer close for a month. The trend is toward shorter, more frequent vacations.