Peck's personal Web site
The winter spent mostly looking for big holes
Wrestling with the Underworld in the Jura, January 2002
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
example! Dr Pirri taking a luckily brief trip into a well-hidden
hole in the forest of Grande Rolat, January 2002. Simple cautions, like "Watch
Your Step", have no meaning for Dr Pirri.
Warming up for more plunges into the forest floor
undeterred, Prof Pirri returns to check another monster hole
as if lessons were not for learning. But
Dr Pirri's capacity for falling into holes is virtually inexhaustible.
all holes in the Jura are as obvious as this one. In some places, fields and fields of open holes and
cracks in the limestone forest floor can provide hours of targeted winter entertainment
when the lads venture into the area on a warm and sunny afternoon in January 2002.
it's that kind of January, a Republican
January you might say. Nine of the
ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1990, when the Republicans legislated
a ban on research on alternatives to wholesale dependence upon the fossil fuels
which frequently make a select few of us extremely rich. Not me, of course, and
not you, but . . . .
Pirri, leading the expedition whilst recounting
amusing anecdotes from his youth, almost disappears into a shallow crack or chasm
in the forest floor. Not far from a humongous hole in the forest floor (left).
Dr Pirri labors to extract himself from the forest floor, his colleague(s) dart
about in all unhelpful directions seeking still funnier camera angles.
in Mr Pirri's predicament, his colleague(s) blow off the better part of a roll
of film hoping to chronicle just the right moment when physics
and irony meet, and Dr Pirri disappears straight down, leaving behind only
a ski pole and the aroma of aftershave.
moments later, having charged Dr Pirri with negligence and taken over the lead,
Mr Peck of Bassins, Switzerland, wanders into a similar fate and lodges
his snowshoe into a narrow crevice . . .
. . which evidently likes his snowshoe a lot and schemes to retain it indefinitely.
snowshoe -- if we disengage it from our feet, it will descend quickly out
of reach, into the bowels of the earth as it were, and we'll only have one left
(snowshoe, that is, not bowel. Well, that too.). So we keep on tugging at it,
as afternoon drags on into evening and our mozzarella sandwiches begin to dry
out in our backpacks.
with a shall-we-call-it Herculean effort we yank! the reluctant plastic out of the earth, at the cost of about 80 grams of knee
cartilege, and regain our freedom, something devoutly
to be wished for a lot of people around the world in these fallen times.
than just cartilege: the following week the whole snowshoe fell apart three hours
out from the Col de la Givrine. Shouldn't have Yanked it so hard - diplomacy might
have worked better.]
freedom is not always the same thing as standing upright,
and -- as so often is the case -- the standing upright part of it takes up another
handsome length of time. Throughout which, former President Pirri was making
himself sick with laughter at the contemplation of our plight.
last laugh, as Mr Pirri dives in again moments later. (The penultimate
laugh, actually, because shortly after this one, we went in again, too.)
. . . once out of the blimey limestones and heading back at the end of the
day, we remember why we've come here in the first place. Sunset, 26 January 2002,
on the far side of the Col du Marchairuz.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 25 January 2002, revised 30 July 2008, 11 January 2014.