Stranded on Earth        Chapter 4       

Chapitre 4

Brigitte turns green...

Here is Brigitte back with her Mother Grand. Of course she is happy, her who since the return of the beautiful days feels a sensual desire for tender grass and bird songs. But the grass this year is already yellow: the greenhouse effect? The water now has a slightly salty taste: nitrates...

As expected, she brought her lessons to catch up. But well, it is not very easy to stay stuck in the papers, when outside life explodes in joyful sheaves.

Between two study sessions, she tries to take stock. This feeling of inner dirt, which invaded her after the recent disputes, is gradually dissipating. But the state of grace, the fresh lucidity of the last year does not return. Of course, she finds herself, she thinks, she realizes, but for this she needs to sustain an effort...

She is becoming very sure of herself with her grandmother. Indeed she has got self-confidence, and even some nerve, in her students assemblies. She even disagree with the Grandma because she is following her soap opera on her TV, a quarter of an hour a day. She sulks her when she receives a neighbour. Grandma says nothing. She has seen much worse. But this is not the only reason. Just before leaving, she still has a remark: «You changed, Brigitte» but she would not say more, despite Brigitte's questions.

Despite this, this time is good. Brigitte resumes her inner work with activity in the garden. First, not to rush. Start by looking at the place where she has to work. See how to do it, simply, without getting confused. Then look for the tools. Place them in a practical way. Take an inspiration. Taste the freshness of the air in the nose, throat and even in the lungs. Taste the perfumes of plants, look at the flowers, the insects, the hues of shadows on the leaves. It is crazy: a small world lives in a row of leeks... Then we begin to work: be it precision or effort, the body is happy to activate, to express itself, and it knows how to tell it in its own way, if we pay attention to it.

Through this work, which she pursues assiduously, Brigitte succeeds in completely transforming into a sweet happiness what for some is a chore. This is life! She is well aware of the importance of this state. She is conscious, she is happy!

Everything is not perfect. At times, she must force herself to remain in this state, and she quickly realizes that the more she forces, the more it moves away from her. What is the explanation of this strange phenomenon? Is this why she is no longer so lucid? In addition, insignificant things annoy her: a piece of plastic abandoned on the ground, a noisy motorcycle on the road, a dog barking... Everything which stains the rustic poetry of this country nook. She says to Grandma: «But at last! Would you buy music which would be full of parasites? Where you would hear barks, tins, blah blahs superimposed? No, of course! So why do people have to have plenty of parasites in their sound field, parasites in life?

-Yeah, you're right, Doe.» Grandma remains silent and smiling. She passes by with a box of water paints for school children.

-Oh, you are painting, Grandma? Will you show me?

-Yes, Doe, but later.» And still with her calm reassuring smile, she climbs to her room, to her sanctuary, where Brigitte never set a foot, nor does anyone else seemingly. She would never dare. This represents so many things for her: Her early childhood... The sweetness of the heart of her Grandma...

Also for food, Brigitte tries to change. Grandma patiently follows her desiderata, and does the same for herself. She still refuses to let her cook, but suddenly she changes her mind, not without ogling with anxiety at her pans bottoms!

Less meat, less fat. Cereal flakes at breakfast. More raw vegetables and fruits. Basically it is very simple, it is very well and it is much more pleasant. Both Grandma's two rabbits can sleep on their four ears!

Dreams come back, more agitated. Did she ever dream in town? Now she flies. It is sunny, an invitation to the freedom of space, but as soon as she tries to rise, the sky becomes a peas soup fog, a few meters from the ground, dark grey, and as hard as a lid. Or the sky is normal, but when she wants to climb, she realizes that she is under a high voltage line! And there are others above, a real spider web...



Back to town. Hard to cope. But at least, she is going to see Roger again! Then, one evening in September, she goes back to her student room, introduces the key in the lock, opens...

No! She went in the wrong level. It is not possible. Yet this indeed is the attic with purple walls and rounded corners, her poster, her bed. ⚠⚠⚠! But these four guys who look at her bewildered? A syringe on the floor? What a mess they did! All her clothes were pushed loose in a corner, the table is covered with dirty dishes, the carpet is soiled, full of cigarette burns...

«But... But... who are you? How did you get in?»

⚠ She gets only vague grunts. Flabbergasted, she remains motionless, then she suddenly realizes that the small concierge is there, behind her, on the landing, visibly discontented.

«Mademoiselle, you rented a room for one person, not for all your friends who come at all hours and spoils the other tenants from sleeping!

- But... How... My friends? But I know none of them!

- But how are they in your room then?

- But ... But I do not know! Look they got it all messed up!

- Oh, they dirtied it all! But for them to enter, you must have given them a key!

- But never...

- But then how...

- But I don't know! Ah yes: I lent the key to a buddy who was to water my plants!

- Aaah this is how! This is surely what attracted these individuals!»

⚠ The concierge is more and more heated, and now she face the inside of the room: «Gentlemen! How did you get in?


- Are you invited by Mademoiselle Brigitte?


- No? But what are you doing here, then?» ⚠ She goes in, but one of the four takes a vaguely threatening look. Then she backs on the landing and goes down to her bureau, not without throwing at Brigitte: «After all it's your business not mine.»

⚠ Let us pass over the next half hour, where Brigitte oscillates between being enraged, stunned and despaired for her destroyed belongings. Her attempts to parley meet the same contemptuous silence, and even rude threats! Not knowing what to do, she is about to come down when a great noise of footsteps rises in the spiral staircase. Appears a thin man in beige costume, followed by another and the concierge.

«Inspector Lajoignie, good evening. So, Mademoiselle, we have problems with your subtenants?»

No! The police! The little concierge did not hesitated. Brigitte realizes that her situation is very delicate: how not to be considered as an accomplice? Here we go, she is going to be beaten, filed, imprisoned, lobotomized... Her heart is beating madly!

⚠ The inspector enters the room, totally relaxed despite the lash of insults: «Fascist! SS!» His colleague comments, in the tone of the one who has seen others, but who still not lost all sensitivity: «Hey the blokes they have their dose!

-Take them to the van.»

⚠ The officers who followed in the stairs executed this order. The four, curiously, do not really resist. They are drawn, without brutality, but without condescension. Only the fourth starts to yell, which does not impress the policemen at all: «Close your mouth it is eleven! You'll wake up the whole neighbourhood!

- Mademoiselle, please follow me»

⚠ Brigitte obeys, anxious. Down in the street a van and a car are waiting, beacons flashing. The other bloke is still yelling, which attracted all the street-dwellers to the windows, plus a flock of passers-by. What a hubub because of her!

But Brigitte will not be arrested. The inspector asks her some explanations, delicate we expect. He pretends to get on his nerves: «But this is incredible your story! This does not happen to everyone! You really never involved in those evenings?»

Brigitte already thinks she is accused of complicity when the little concierge intervenes: «That's true, sir policeman! She's a brave girl, serious and everything! Problem is that she has bad friends! I told her, but you know how it is! Young people do not listen!» She goes on: «Do not charge them too much, nevertheless, these poor young people, drugs, you know what it is... It is not them who need to be punished, it's the big traffickers! Who exploit the youth...

- Don’t worry, ma'am, we know the job.»

⚠ Once the upheaval spent, Brigitte, alone in her room, evaluates the damage. The beautiful mauve bedspread of her ten years, and her best clothes, were stolen, to buy the drug. Roger's cassette player too, which is much worse! Fortunately the tapes had been stacked in a box, under study notes, the guys did not looked there. What a shame, what an humiliation, if Roger's whole sound universe had been destroyed because of her! More than one hundred and twenty tapes, some untraceable or unique, patiently gathered over the years by cropping on the indispensable with a derisory budget! It is that it is expensive, in the end. More the linen and clothes all scattered and dirty, the bed disgusting, the carpet wasted... The food, obviously, nothing is left. Except a packet marked «wholegrain rice», ostensibly neglected: drug does not make people become idealist. And of course, on the window sill, her basil and tarragon plants, dry as hay. These few bits of greenery were her communion with life, her first plantations, which she particularly cherished. To see them so lamentably abandoned humiliates her more than everything else, reaching her in her very ideals...

She thinks at Paco... Another one who is not conscious further than the tip of his tongue! Brigitte would never have imagined that one could behave in such a way. Undoubtedly, if she had been given someone else's access to lodging, she would have taken more care of it than from her own. These people, she vaguely remembered seeing them in the company of Paco or others. No doubt she had spent evenings with them, dancing and laughing. He had to admit now that they were not really normal.

Brigitte, not knowing where to go or what to do at this late hour of the night, stays with her head in her hands: What can be the meaning of such a senseless adventure? What a darkness! What a shame! What... tobacco smell here in her very bedroom!

Since she is not at all self-sufficient financially, she can only seek help from her parents. Oh they do not compliment her, but contrary to her expectation, it is not a rage, nor the great melodrama. The brother is even not told, it would be such an opportunity for him to sneer! Brigitte is ashamed enough like that. Her parents have the tact of not pushing her further, just the father pointed out in a severe tone that «you just had not to trust these bums...» They even offer to replace Roger's cassette player, because he was for nothing in the incident.

On the return of the students, Brigitte learned that, a few days after the end of his failed studies, Paco had received a letter from his parents, and a plane ticket to return immediately to his country, surely not to receive compliments. Caught by time, Paco did not knew what to do for Brigitte's plants. It would be much better to throw away the key, too bad for the plants, rather than entrusting it to another pal, who gave it to an acquaintance. Ah! Paco and his haschich!



A few days later, there is no material trace of the incident. But Brigitte is still very mortified, even when confiding to Roger.

«Your parents were nice, basically.

- ...

- You see, you said they were completely in the system and not at all conscious. But it did not prevented them from being nice. They could have made you a frightful scene, saying that everything was your fault...

- It's true they're in the system. My father thinks only of money, and for me he sees only the studies, and after the job.

- And your mother, you talked to her about happiness, about consciousness?

- !... ...No. I ... No, she certainly is not conscious.

- Perhaps if you talked to her, she would understand.

- ...

- Perhaps not everything, but how can you know if you do not try? You know, my family is the same. At first when I spoke to them, they said I was derailing. But now they listen to me, and even do a little like me.

- But the conflicts of generation...

- No, you know very well that these are stories of reactionary sociologists who try to divert the attention from the real problems. Everywhere we must see human beings, and make them want them to live also, by sending them good vibrations. Age is for nothing. Look at your caretaker: it is her who got you out of it, basically. She talked to this cop who was going to take you as a drug addict. Ooooh of course, she will not leave tomorrow to found an ecological community, but she was kind to you...

- While I rebuffed her before leaving!

- You see! She is not spiteful, at least.

- !

- Me, what I think is that there is not perfectly conscious people on one side, and unrecoverable ones on the other. Everyone has something, every human has his faults and his good sides. Well, some have more problems than others, but in any case it is up to everyone to choose, to make the right choices.

- Yes, but still, we are more conscious than others...

- Well, if you want, let's say we made better choices, but we must not reject the other people like old socks. Let us give them as much value. They can evolve. They evolve.

- Nor blindly trust all those who say they are conscious.

- Aaah that you understood! You remember, these two...

- But there is still something! This intuition: to me everything seems obvious, simple, and the others do not see anything! Or so little!

- Yes, yes, indeed... But do not forget that the Laws of the Universe are the same for you as for all the others. Even an extraterrestrial from a completely liberated planet, in your situation, raised as you have been, might not do better.

«You, Brigitte, you are too sincere, you have the gift from birth, in a way. For us, it's harder, you see. We all are self-deceiving ourselves with a lot of stuff and stuff, which we now have to remove one by one...»


On these deep considerations, they separate, leaving Brigitte puzzled and confused. For several days she changes of university restaurant, to avoid meeting her friend. Of course, «the idiots on one side and the conscious on the other» has at least the merit of being simple. Thus reasoned danton, robespierre, stalin, hitler, mao... Problem is the small concierge, for whom she was nothing, if not worse. Yet she helped her to get out of a bad situation. Gratuitously. She even had a gesture for the four unfortunates.

Needless to say, during these days, in the sky of her dreams, the cloud cover takes a little height, but remains compact and dark as lead. This vision is not really terrifying, but it is certainly not a good sign.

On Sunday, she wakes up early, and in her bed she again turns and returns her thoughts. More or less conscious? What does that mean? It is contradictory, disjointed. This concierge... What a shame, for her, conscious, to be pulled out of a delicate situation by somebody watching the TV! At a pinch she would resent her for helping her. How could she? If she is not conscious, she could not know where the Good and the Truth are.

She is still trying to get into Roger's though. More or less conscious... But yes, but it is very simple! Just accept this, and everything again becomes clear and clear! Less simple, but coherent and logical. Brigitte, relieved, tries again, to see: Every human being is a little, a lot, passionately, not at all conscious... of different things: happiness, nature, feelings, relationships... Moreover, and independently of this part of consciousness, each has more or less defects of character, of personality. This two-dimensional vision (consciousness and personality) much more closely matches reality, and it reflects the variety of situations encountered in it: the brave people (the majority, in fact... all the better) whose consciousness is certainly weak, which makes them manipulable, but who nevertheless maintain a minimum of human value in the society, like the small concierge; whose who really made the wrong choice, and who get bogged down into evil; whose who are a little conscious, but overwhelmed with defects of personality that they cannot easily rectify (like these drug addicts...); whose who might have made a partial realization, but which has been diverted by false ideas (Fabriz, Ferdinand); whose who made a partial consciousness taking and are content to live there; and finally whose like her and Roger, whose consciousness has blossomed, and who are now trying to eliminate their character defects, and try to tune their personality and their lives to the demands of their consciousness... which is not as easy as it looks at first sight.

For most people, apparently, the opening of consciousness is very slow, too slow to conclude before death, alas. For others it is faster, but partial. In her case, for some mysterious reason, it was very fast, yet she has no superior quality, extraordinary parapsychological power or other gift. All the merit even not goes to her, since she now owes a good share to Roger. Is him more conscious than her, or is his consciousness focused on other aspects of life? Humans are becoming conscious by stages. What Brigitte did in one stroke, others understand it gradually, or in stages. Since she is in her second stage, maybe... are there others? Vertiginous perspective on which Brigitte does not venture to speculate...

Any feeling of confusion or dirt has disappeared from her mind, but a slight shame subsists: the concierge... This brave woman, whom she snubbed for a futile motive, and even erroneously as the experience cruelly demonstrated. «Of course this caretaker does not have the same intuition as me!» Of course if I talked her to undress to taste the caress of the wind she would believe I am crazy or who knows what. But she is a person, not essentially different from me in the end. What to do with her? Reject her? No, of course. Give her gifts? No essential things she would not know to appreciate. I could not inhabit and live with her, but the best would be... to give her kindness and good mood. To love her, in a way.

It is quite obvious for Brigitte, and for a long time, that to love means essentially TO GIVE and not to take. But until now she considered this only for her future charming prince, who would one day take her away in a flying saucer. For the caretaker, for her parents, her comrades, they also need some. It is obviously not be the same love, without the sexual side, of course, and more cautious, less committed. But it will still essentially be a form of giving, of radiating. Until now, Brigitte had tried to communiate with life, but in a kind of neutral way. Now it is a matter of loving, of being committed, of giving oneself.

Brigitte emerges from her blankets, conscious of a new step... And of a lot of work, since remaining full of poetry and joy in front of the sad spectacle of human defects, it will surely be much more difficult than before a gentle row of leeks.


The next day, she finds Roger. This topic will not come back in their discussions. But Brigitte better understands Roger's way of being, him who remains kind when others are enraged, or who prefers to leave the place rather than continue a deaf dialogue with an evil bent mind, and expose himself to painful and useless heart wounds. What she took for a a kind of resignation is actually a form of Wisdom. And now that she understood it, she no longer analyses it, but she lives it.

In the evening they are back in Roger's new bedroom. He arranged it a little differently: The burlap disappeared with other things during the ransacking of Brigitte's room. Instead he braided dry palm leaves, arrived here who knows how.

«By the way, Brigitte, tell your parents not to take the effort of buying me a new cassette player: Amedee gave me Paco's one. He left it when he departed, with a lot of good tapes. It is even better than the old one. You will thank them from me, even so, as there are not many who would have done so.»

For a long time, they remain silent. They do not even hear music. Roger wants his science degree, and it is his last year. For him it is not easy, and he does not want to fail so close to success.


Brigitte reads the reviews. All of a suddent:

«Look: there's an ecologists group in the neighbourhood! They make an evening debate at the sports hall! I would... I'll go to see them!» Roger raises the nose from his writings, his face lit by a warm, silent smile: Brigitte follows her path, everything is fine.


On Friday, the sports hall is almost full, and the atmosphere is lively! «It is not complicated: if we continue like that we will all die!» The debate, originally planned on nuclear power, goes far beyond on other horrors: air pollution, acid rains, ozone, the terrifying greenhouse effect... All problems that the ecologists, at the time of this narrative (early 1980s) were already repeating since ten years, following the scientists, who sounded the alarm first... without great results.

Brigitte notices with surprise that this character, who argues and tries to put the orator in trouble, intervening more than in his turn, is none other than the apprentice-civil servant who already sowed disagreement in the student's strike movement! If he was a finance guy, the boss of a big company accomplice of nuclear power, that would have been understandable, but what is this guy (of her age) mingling in defending the destroyers of his own future?!!!

«You have to see the economic realities! If you applied your measures, it would be unemployment, surely even a stock market crisis!

-Sir, don't you think there will be a stock market crisis when Europe will be as dry as the Sahel by the greenhouse effect?»

A second speaker intervenes: «No, there will be no crisis, because even after our death the financial computers will continue to speculate and rate the stock exchange automatically!» General laughter! Nevertheless, as every reader could see on a certain Monday in October 1987, when the computers of the financial companies and speculators made a stock market crisis at night, all alone, from themselves, while everyone was asleep, few laughed. I even believe that these gentlemen found it rather brackish. And that they will pay attention to their computers, from now on.

The first speaker resumed: «Unemployment... Unemployment... You have only that word in your mouth! We refuse to be taken hostage by an economic system which puts us to death!

- It's a reality, unemployment.

- Shorten working hours! Better distribute work! Even the bosses are not against it! We are in a society where the automation of the means of production greatly increases the capacity of production per person: necessarily there is less and less work, and there will always be fewer and fewer! Who will complain? It is better to take advantage of it to put in place activities which protect life, nature, creative activities, expression, art...»

Fortunately, other listeners ask questions or contribute in a more constructive way. One of the important topics is the involvement in elections. It must be remembered that, at the time of this narrative, the ecological movement in France is in a low ebb. The protests against nuclear plants stumbled on the violence of repression. Participation in the elections divided the movement, between the ones who did not want to meddle in it, those who got involved, and those who immediately saw where were the good places...

«Why not to continue the major antinuclear demonstrations like Creys-Malville?

- Good. Why? Well... I think... A lot of people got discouraged. Facing the violence of repression. The power to be was ready (at the highest level) to go to civil war. (Silence in the room) On the site there were soldiers paratroopers, armed. Weapons of war were used against non-violent citizens seeking to protect the interests of the country. The surrounding villages were completely covered with tear gas, the gardens were trampled on, the inhabitants terrorized, hounded in their houses... Nobody thinks at them. I myself saw a garde mobile telling me that he would like to see me disembowelled... What use for him to say something like this? From our side, we have been until we were killed. What more could we do? Now things are in the hands of public opinion. Or of events. If a nuclear power plant blows up...

- But this violence, I suspect you sought it?»

- ⚠ Certainly not! All the great demonstrations, and especially the one of Malville, had clearly been announced as non-violent. I also saw, still in the same occasion, hairy provocateurs PRETENDING to beat two CRS who even not tried to defend themselves, for more than one minute, and as if by chance, just at this second appeared two dozens of photographers and cameramen... Non-violence disturbs too many people! The violence would have made it too easy to denigrate us. This is why the organizers of such events always chose non-violence. There even were former Resistance fighters who, in order to fight a power plant, wanted to bring out the weapons they had laid down at the end of the war. Fortunately, the local ecologists dissuaded them.»

To evoke these terrifying things makes Brigitte uncomfortable. As a child, she had long thought that a reassuring amount of time separated Mankind from these terrible wars and persecutions, in which human suffering counted so little. But this barrier is in places very thin...

She asks a question, and finds herself again intimidated. «When you are in nature, are you aware of communicating, of experiencing joy, happiness?»

A slight hubbub and laughters in the room makes Brigitte's cheeks blush. Why to laugh at this?

The speakers look at each other with a smile, and one of them replies: «But of course! Without that we would not be ecologists! What we want is that people become aware of all this beauty of nature, of all this life, of the subtle regulations of ecosystems, all which is threatened and we need to save while it is still time! Besides, if we were not constrained by priorities such as nuclear power, we would probably work to make nature better known, to teach people to respect it, and this from school! There is so much to do, so much work of protection, of reconstruction, of instruction! There always is more work to build than to destroy! How stupid we were accused of unemployment a moment ago!»

Later, the conference is over, but the room is still cheerfully busy with people looking at the documentation and tasting organic products. Brigitte feels more at ease here than in the agitated debate. Here a new way of life, a new sensibility is prepared, by information, by actions, by this new food, she... feels it!

In fact, a delicious perfume of good bread emanates from the stands, where she sees for the first time these famous organic products, and she enjoys vegetable paté and delicious grape juice!

The speakers, stands managers and other members of the association are there, among the visitors, of whom nothing differentiates them. Seen from close up they look sympathetic, with quite varied presentations and ages. Not related, in general, with the «hippie» image often loaded on them. This one who a moment ago was imprecating against the ill-will of the media, is now a slender little guy dressed in beige, somewhat shy. Nothing easier than to approach them.

«For nature, in general, what are you doing?

- Alas not much: here we are in the town! But sometimes we go out on Sundays to visit organic farmers, or in the mountains. If you are interested, you phone this number and you arrange for transport, food, dates and everything.

- I think that when we are in nature, we feel better, more lucid, more enthusiastic...

- Of course... It's the same for us!

- Of course the big pollution is bad, but I find that small things like bits of plastic, car sounds, box shaped houses... How to say? It spoils everything, we are no longer in a state of Poetry...

- You have a poetic sensibility! A poetic perception of nature! Listen, you'll talk about it with the woman you're calling, who's called Monique! she will surely be interested.»

Some days later, Brigitte had an appointment at six o'clock in the morning, in front of the entrance of the campus, for a visit of an organic farmer! She is about to turn back, because the car is late. Finally there it is: a small whitish R4, full of smiling faces, where just a piece of a seat remains for her.

All along the way, she can look at the occupiers at leisure: Monique, the driver, a small woman with curious red hairs, voluble and lively, a beautiful forty years; Marc, with his imposing black hair and beard, with subtle political and social reflections, his companion Yolande, with a violet bandage on her thick black hair, quite reserved, and finally another guy of about fifty, wearing a gray suit, of whom she no longer remembers the name. Behind, two other cars follow.

The conversation is lively, and it runs on the comparative merits of organic food against the old one, then on agriculture. Brigitte hears for the first time words that she asks to be explained: biodynamic, compost, crops rotations, false seedbed... The farmer they are going to see is oriented biodynamic. Monique and Marc seem to know everything about these subjects, and the other person in grey, who is not a beginner, also asks questions, more technical. Brigitte understands that he is part of an administration which deals with agriculture. Thus, in the small car which runs on a deserted departmental road, the society is evolving, becoming more conscious and responsible, in its very inner workings and its official machinery. Brigitte remarks in passing: this administrative manager is taking a LITTLE consciousness of a PARTICULAR aspect of life, as many others in the same time. And little by little, the whole humanity is beginning to wake up. Will it succeed in time to avoid the disasters that its own unconsciousness has set in motion? Dangerous speed race between life and death, between Happiness and nothing, which will probably keep his suspense until the end...

Brigitte shares her impression about the progressive evolution of society. Contrary to his ex-friends of the past year, too elitist, these ecologists seem more open to the whole society.

«But there is a change in attitudes! It can be felt, today there are more and more people who are interested, more and more who change their way of living, of eating...

- How to change lifestyle? In our inner self?

- Yes, of course, in our inner life, to be more aware of the need to protect nature, but also externally, with a more ecological life.

- What do you mean?

- There are many things, for example do not buy products which can be thrown away, or which wear out easily, refuse plastic packaging, which contaminate air and nature, eat organic and vegetarian, of course, no alcohol, no tobacco and all that, avoid using too much energy, for heating, for the car... This is why I have a small car! This is for what is possible to do individually, but there are many other things to do at the collective level: reviewing transport, giving priority to those which do not consume too much energy, reviewing the distribution of organic food, which is chaotic, review education, review... Here, even a stupidly simple detail: garbage. How to recycle them? It is difficult and expensive if everything is mixed up! It would be enough that people select themselves the different categories: metals, papers, plastics, glass, and what is biodegradable! Specialized garbage collections would be organized, or dumps with bins for each thing. I'm sure people would do it right! (Note by the author: this was written in 1990, dépôt légal 1998). With each category of waste, new materials could be redone, and even excellent compost could replace the junk chemical fertilizers which poison the water tables...

- Well, that's a pretty good program! There's work! We're a long way from the current society...

- Yes, yes, but we shall have to go through it!» In any case, it will cost infinitely less than repairing the disasters we shall get if we don't.

- The more one advances in consciousness, the more we must change our life! How to impose it on people?

- I don't think it should be imposed on people... Things have to be understood, and then people will do it on their own. But I see we're arriving!»

Here are our visitors on a tiny road which winds its way through the hills, to a farm. At first sight, nothing distinguishes it from the other farms, except that the approaches to the house are well kept and flowered. But connoisseurs already notice the biodynamic composts, in carefully trimmed heaps.

The farm is inhabited by two very young families, with small children.

The tour lasts all day. In fact, the actual installations do not look very different from those of a conventional farm: cereal fields, meadows, a large vegetable garden, a workshop and garage, a barn with cows and a reserve of fodder. More original are the famous biodynamic composts. One of the farmers invites the visitors to look closely: it smells of humus for the oldest. A heap is being built, with a chimney made of branches for aeration, and the alternating layers of straw and manure. Another pile appears to be inhabited by an incredible quantity of enormous earthworms, which the farmer picks up by handfuls: «Here is the life of the soil! They are the most valuable auxiliaries of agriculture! This compost pile produces the best fertilizer imaginable! No need to pollute or to consume energy! No need for factories! Here is health for the West and Abundance for the Third World! Everything is there, in this humble pile of humus, within reach, it is enough to be conscious of it and to want it!»


Finally they visit the barn. The cows are out, but presently there are several calves.

«You can go, they are calves fed under the mother, who gambolled in the meadow.

- Oh they're cute!

- How it looks gentle, a little beast like that? And how its eyes are expressive?»

The tour ends with the cheese dairy, an occasion for tasting. They much enjoy entering the strange wet and fresh athanor, in white-limed stones, where mysteriously the cheeses become more refined and tasty.

Finally, at noon, they go to the house, where a delicious organic meal awaits: salads in abundance, soup, leek pie, all accompanied with the most delicious grape juice... Tongues are even more active than forks, on all these exciting topics. Fortunately the discussions remain in the constructive and in the positive: it is a pleasant afternoon which begins, dedicated to a kind of seminar for those who are interested. Others can walk, or attend gardening, or talk more. Brigitte took the opportunity to ask more questions to Monique.

«It was really good!

- Oh you see it's good, a vegetarian meal!

- What is the difference between vegetarian and organic?

- Oh it's almost the same thing, there is just the definition which changes: organic means it is natural, without chemical stuff; vegetarian is that there is no meat, or very little. It is the same thing: as the meat is full of toxins which poison the body, we suppress it. There is no need for so much protein, and in any case we find excellent ones in cereals, legumes and dried fruits. I never eat any, but hey, in our association there are some who eat it on occasion. We must not fall into sectarianism!»

Brigitte, all in her happy discovery of an entirely new world, is interested in everything, from the flowers in front of the house to the technical details of organic farming. A whole new society, a different life, simpler, more in contact with nature! A network of friendships, relationships, information exchange!

As Monique explained, the people on the farm do not throw away the garbage: everything which can degrade goes to the compost, only the inevitable plastic packaging goes to the municipal dump. Even the conventional water toilets with their septic tanks, dangerous polluters of the underground water tables, have been replaced by a humus toilet: the manure, covered with a shovelful of chips or chopped straw, is fermenting in a few days, to give a very good humus, with a pleasant odour. Eric, a little three years old kid, even makes a demonstration! The cabinet itself is clean, hygienic, with the sympathetic cleanliness of straw and hay. Some fragrant herbs end up cleansing the atmosphere.

In the workshop, solar collectors for hot water are under construction. «It's our way of protecting the environment!»


Finally they visit the classroom. The children are educated at home, according to the Steiner method. But today it's Sunday, so that they just show their notebooks. «Oh it's pretty!» The ooh and the aaah encourage these ingenuous works: away the cold rationalist stiffness! The lessons on letters (they are still learning to write) are all adorned with gradations, rainbows, auras with pure colours! How could they obtain such patience and precision from these very young children?Gwendoline, six years old, explains: «The other children they press very hard on the pencil and it makes scribble. Do not press the pencil! We must pass it many times, gently. The hand is light as a small bird. You have to see what it says, if it's beautiful.» Finally she takes her flute and plays «Ma petite est comme l'eau» without mastery, but red with a delicious shyness!

Visitors are delighted with this candid beauty. All save one woman, obviously uncomfortable in front of these serene, active and fulfilled children.

«It is good to show them beauty, but there is evil in our society. Would not these children later be maladapted?»

Brigitte is amazed by such an inept speculation, in addition just in front of them! The great Marc replies:

«Oh, no doubt, yes, they will not know how to make atomic bombs, make cubic homes, or get bored in an office...» General laughter! But the sad person insists:

«It's a serious problem: they'll have to find a job later, know how to use a bank account, or...» We hear Brigitte: «I hope it will not exist any more this ⚠⚠⚠ when they will be adults»

One of the farmers explains more philosophically:

«The education we offer to our children is not so much about swallowing knowledge. There are tape recorders for that. The Steiner pedagogy, and also the one of Maria Montessori, seeks to develop the whole human, with all his qualities: Sensitivity to subtle things, Artistic sensitivity, Intuition, reasoning and judgement. If one day they find themselves in a new and unknown situation, whatever it may be, they will be able to understand it and react accordingly, without losing the essence of their person, and assuming it better than with pre-programmed knowledge which will certainly be obsolete by then...

«If this can answer your question, know that in Germany, where they are a bit more in reality than here, a job seeker is more likely to be hired if the boss knows he attended a Steiner school...»

The woman, being unable to answer such a «realistic» argument, simply does not hear it, and restarts in another domain:

«But we must let them spontaneity, let them follow their instincts! Is not your poetry likely to distort the...

- If Evolution had given all what is needed to children, so that they just had to follow their instincts, it would not have provided them with parents. We are not crocodiles to lay our children in the marigot, and then leave them uneducated.» Then he ostensibly changes of topic before the conversation turns sour. Brigitte is outraged, to hear in such a place and at such a moment these negative remarks, seeds of confusion! She looks at the sad woman, who gives herself airs of a great misunderstood.


Brigitte, enchanted by this new way of life, became in two hours a passionate ecologist. The flavour of the vegetables, the magic flowers of the notebooks, the smiles given at all times, have convinced her far better than all the speeches and technical figures.

However, instead of going to the technical seminary, which is going on in the house, Brigitte stays in the garden with one of the two mothers and some other visitors. Passionate bursts of voice and joyful laughter come from the house, from the seminary. While the morning was rather grey, a discreet Autumn sun is now part of the game. A cock sings clearly in another farm around.

The trees just start to turn red. It is the most beautiful moment, when each species has its own colour: carmine for cherry trees, golden green or lemon yellow for birch trees with white trunks, passed green for oak trees. Late swallows squall and sweep over the garden, ruffling in the air with their rapid flight. A light mist softens the lights and blends the far scenes into pastel hues, bringing a bit of moisture, and smell of undergrowth.

The older children are in the garden, and take pleasure in doing some work within their reach, like spreading dead leaves to cover the ground in anticipation of winter.

Brigitte asks to help as well. One of the mothers told her that coming from the city she should need to rest. «But to rest from paperwork and greyness, nothing is worth the garden!» She even shows effective, from learning with her Grandma.

Later, when the seminar is over, everyone gathers together, and the conversation revolves again on several subjects, in disorder.

«Solar cells work, but it is still very expensive: there are no studies done on this subject, they prefer that it does not spread too much»

The great Marc comments: «Maria Montessori realized that children need, in order to develop their personality, to experience certain things, especially during «sensitive periods».

- Is that scientific?

- She observed it, and this is perfectly explained by modern neurology, which even checked the timeline given by Maria Montessori. Normally the experiences that children need are naturally present in a healthy, balanced and open family environment, so that there is actually no need to look after them.

- But it's rare, a family like this nowadays.

- Yeah, and that's why there are so many people who have problems. If the child in a sensitive period does not find what he needs, the vital energy does not stop, but it is deviated, either outwardly, by rumpus, aggressiveness, or worse internally by deviations or perversions, which are even more destructive. The damage is sometimes difficult to recover, because it is registered in the nerve cells!

- Ah my little Juanita is two years old and a few, she was very cute and in a few days she began to shout all the time and to make whims.

- Beginning of social life: maybe she simply needs to know how far she can go. It is essential for the balance of her social relations! What she needs, it may just be that you need to be firm about certain things, that you do not let her invade your own life abusively. She's not a baby anymore, she's a little girl now! She is no longer in the stroller, she walks with the others!

- Aaah then I understand why the kids in the communities often turned very antisocial!

- Yes, the notion of freedom, is good in itself, but we must not be Manichaean or simplistic. Would it be to respect the freedom of the child than to let him go when he tries his first steps? No, it would even be a crime. For social life, it is the same: the child needs beacons, landmarks. It is even a terrible drama for him, if he does not find them! Especially that he does not know to say what he is feeling! Then he is angry with everyone, and against life. This is how we make the asocial and the perverts.

- Yeah, you're right, Juanita looks rather unhappy, but we do not know what. The food, the clothes, the bed, everything goes and nothing goes.

- It's because she's starting to worry about other things than baby stuff, but she does not know how to express it yet.

- But her stories, she is after details.

- Of course it's details. But it is essential that she lives them properly. The guys who went on the Everest, those who walked on the moon, they also made their first steps in a simple baby pen! For social life, it's the same: it starts with childish stuff: stories of eating cleanly, not to throw the spoon on the floor, to put his toys in place, to...

«How to put his toys for two-and-a-half years old! How do you want her to understand...

- (Marc is comically grandiloquent) But it is not a matter of understanding in our intellectual sense of adults! Children understand very well in their own way. Look here at Philippe and Myriam: Their children do it very well. Gwendoline was already arranging her bears at two, in the morning at dawn. It even quickly became a game, a pleasure, she did it every time she was asked ...

- If you do not ask her...

- You have to persevere, if you you do not educate her, and she'll just be good at watching the TV. After a while, she asked to do so, and even became angry if she was forgotten.

- But to teach him in a certain way of storing and eating, it is not likely to be arbitrary?

- Of course it is. But this point is not important. With a good foundation, the child will be free to choose his own path later. But if at first he has no bases, he will never be able to do so. Knowing how to organize your belongings is a necessity for everybody, whatever the conception of order. I can not conceive a culture, and an ecological society even less, where everybody would let everything anywhere in a mess!

- Yeah. I understand better the problems that the May 68 communities had with children. They wanted to leave them totally free of everything, and give them no reference, no limit... Result: practically all those children opposed the ideas of their parents, and they even got angry with them. Moreover, most are incapable of a continuous activity or of stable emotional relationships, just like the children of orphanages who have been totally deprived of education...»

Brigitte mingled with the conversation: «It is of a higher level than a moment ago!

- Which moment? Ah yes! Obviously... But I remind you that it is still understandable for everyone.

- Of course... But what about these stories of instinct?

- Ooooh it's nonsense. On one hand there are so-called scientists who lay down these kinds of theories, which are repeated because they have a statute of scientists, but in fact these stories have no real scientific basis: they are assumptions, opinions. On the other hand, the communities and all that, they were talking about freedom: but which freedom? The freedom of living together a nice life, or the freedom of allowing oneself of doing anything? Normally, the community movement was to live together a good life, and so a positive movement. But in the absence of an in-depth view, the partisans of the anything could enter the movement without being spotted, and it was them who in fact brought all the failures. They were the ones who invented these stories of instinct, and others, to justify their perverse inclinations and avoid having to question them, as was required by their commitment. In fact, I find that this attitude was profoundly fascist.

- Certainly it was, since they made this movement fail. It's disgusting! Otherwise the sincere idealists would no doubt have succeeded at something. They would have ended, with time and experience, to overcome the problems. Instead they were ejected and discouraged.

- It's infuriating, then.

- This is why there are not so many communities right now. Most people try to live a nicer life in family, or like here by two families. It's already quite complicated like that!»


The time of returning is approaching. Other organic farmers from the neighborhood arrive, with joyous greetings and fruits, vegetables, and even organic wine. Brigitte is intrigued by this latter ingredient. Since as young as she can remember, she always instinctively refused to drink wine or other alcohol. (Yes, instinct exists! But it serves to protect us, not to justify morbid or dirty propensities!) She knows, like everyone else, that alcohol is harmful, that it degrades health and understanding, quite the opposite of what should be an organic product worthy of the name. Well, we must be a little tolerant, she thinks, since this word came so often in the discussions. She will not taste it, that's all. She is not the only one, far from it.

The newcomers are doing good sales, anyway! They contemplate their empty crates while miming desolate airs! «Beuaaah there's no more!» Even Brigitte buys them vegetables, not without remarking: «Bah, one day there will be no more money!

- Aaaaaaaaaaaah that, I hope well there will be no more money!» An original point of view for someone who is selling his production...

Once again in the car, Brigitte feels a nostalgia invading her, which is amplified when, at nightfall, she finds back the artificial lights of the city. «All those people who do not eat organic!» Yes, this cafeteria where she liked to go, this restaurant, all this is no longer making sense! These places where she experienced pleasures are now looking dead, sad. Each step on the path of enlightenment would thus separate her a little more from the rest of humanity... Or would it bring her closer to the Human?

Later, in her bed, the pictures are turning in her head: the comically desolate mine of the laughing and hilarious vegetable producer, the little children gardening with real tools at their size, the meadows, the scent of the undergrowth, Clean and pure air which delicately refreshes her lungs...

THIS IS THE REAL LIFE! She finally found people who are doing something to create a better world on Earth! And not a vague project, but a precise plan where everything is prepared! Merry companions, wise people, skilled workers build the society of tomorrow. Finally her cheerful team of last year was certainly gifted to discuss a better world, for parties, and for music together, but actually it was doing nothing constructive. She will have to talk to Roger about all this.

Brigitte, in any case, is happy, happy... And ecologist. Exhausted by this fertile day, she falls asleep very late. The next day will find her very distracted in the lessons. But is it only because of fatigue?







Stranded on Earth        Chapter 4       


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