A Tale of Winter

March 1, 2008 at 9:12 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

It’s winter 1983. I’m studying in France. There are eleven or twelve of us, counting a professor I’ve blogged about before. I have a manual wheelchair from the US with me, but use the crutches throughout the place we stay.
We’re staying at the Chateau de La Hercerie a hostel, where it is rumored that Donatien Armand, son of the Marquis de Sade spent some time while he wasn’t busy destroying his notorious father’s written work. I think this is a Google Earth shot of the place. Last night, when I found it, it made me miss it…I apologize if that link doesn’t work.

The agenda is to tour and study chateaux in the Loire Valley. On a particular day, we are given a choice. We can either walk to the Chateau de Chenonceau in the morning and take a train back in the afternoon, or hop the train in the morning and walk (in my case get pushed) back in the afternoon. While the day is sunny and the sky is blue, it’s cold. We decide to take the train there and walk back. I have my wheelchair and a black wool cape

Some of the rest have jackets or coats. One young man’s zipper on his coat was broken.

After a detailed and interesting tour throughout the place we came outside to full grey clouds and wind.

It is a 4.16 mile distance (6.7km) from Chenonceaux to La Hercerie

About 10 minutes into the walk, the blizzard started.

We put our heads down, and the other students took turns pushing me changing places each with the other as it got too tiring.

It wasn’t a complete white out. We could see the road, and know where we were going.

I have no idea how long it took. Very few had appropriately heavy coats and I believe a few may have had none at all. It was hell.

When we returned, the others stomped around and tried to get warm in the foyer, or the main room (did it have a fireplace? I don’t remember).

I could not move at all. Since I’d been sitting still in the chair during the trip i was frozen enough to be immobile for about fifteen minutes, which scared the crap out of me.

By that evening I had a raging fever and realized I was delirious. I asked around for the extra water any other student’s had, and they noticed I looked like hell and so, the professor was called.

Over the counter cold things and fluids were given.

I couldn’t sleep. It felt like, inside my head I was shouting for help, eventhough I had to stay silent since my roomates needed some sleep.

The next morning, a doctor arrived at the hostel. The professor interpreted for me, since I was speaking and writing French at about a fifth grade level at the time. Stronger medicines were procured.

Days later I came downstairs to cheers, and found out two other students had been laid low and ill as well, but were recovering.

Je n’aime pas l’hiver. Pas de tout.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been trying to remember… Autrefois, j’etais… « Midlife And Treachery said,

    […] and other chateaus. I’ve talked about the long cold walk back from Chenonceaux before so I won’t rehash it here.  (forget the names, but I remember loving […]

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