I think Mme Barbier, our barber, depends on me for news of the English-speaking crowd in the village. It's not as if there are very many of us, but she does seem curious. I guess she has to keep tabs on all the social categories: the vintners, the ne'er-do-wells, the church-goers, the pillars of the community, and the foreigners.
She cut my hair yesterday morning. I got there at 9:00, and there was not another customer in sight when I left at 10:00. The phone did ring at least three times while I was in the chair — Mme Barbier, who works alone, has to stop what she's doing and go answer it — and she was making appointments with people for the afternoon, along with one for Saturday. W. is going to get his haircut this morning.
When I was driving back home afterward, there were a few other cars on the road that runs along the river from the village back to our road. At one point, I passed three cars in a line, going toward the village. We all had our headlights on because it had been raining. Suddenly, the third car on the other side of the road, a sporty little reddish-orange hatchback that might have been an Italian make, started drifting over the center line. I didn't see the driver, so I don't know if he or she fell asleep or was adjusting the radio or what.
What I did see was the car coming right at me, and coming at me long enough that I had to run off the road to avoid being hit. I was going about 40 mph, and I assume the other car was too. Luckily for me, at the point where it happened there was a wide gravel shoulder on my side. My anti-lock brakes kicked in and I slowed way down, even though I didn't come to a full stop. At least I didn't end up in a ditch or up against a tree.
By the time I was on the gravel, the other driver had caught him- or herself and straightened out the cars trajectory. I looked in my rear-view mirror but by then I couldn't see the numbers on the license plate. The orange cars seemed to slow down but kept going, and I imagined the driver peering into his or her rear-view mirror just as I was peering into mine. What's that old country song? "I was lookin' back to see if you was lookin' back to see if I was lookin' back to see if you was lookin' back at me."
So I don't know if the car was a local one or somebody from farther away. But you can bet I'm going to keep an eye out for a bright orange hatchback over the next week or two. We have to go out today, so that will be an opportunity. Such a car shouldn't be hard to spot.
It's not often, fortunately, that you find yourself driving along peacefully and suddenly see a car not just straddling the center line of the road but actually coming right at you. It could easily have been a head-on collision.
That was my excitement for the week, I hope.