For all the years we’ve visited and then lived in the Greater Daglan Area, my wife Jan and I had never spotted a sanglier, a wild boar. Lots of deer, gazillions of hawks, a few hares, several foxes — but never a wild boar. Until today, that is, when I had a close encounter of a family kind.
I was driving back to Daglan, heading south from St. Cybranet, and had entered the final stretch of road before it curves into the village. To my right, a forested hill; to my left, clumps of trees and open fields where horses are often left to graze.
And then suddenly I saw a strange bit of activity on the right side of the road — a huddle of some kind of creature. Large squirrels? Small cats?
Immediately I slowed down the car, and approached cautiously, to find that the wee animals were baby sangliers, huddled together so tightly and moving around so quickly that I couldn’t begin to count them. Obviously they had become separated from their mother, and kept looking up the hill.
Once I stopped the car and put on my emergency flashers, I immediately phoned Jan (a true animal lover) to tell her the news. By then the little ones were walking right beside my car, so close that I couldn’t see them. Jan wondered if I could see the mother, so I started peering out my windshield up at the hill — and nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a gigantic black beast, with gleaming tusks, staring down at her little ones. Wow, are they huge!
By this time, Jan was asking if she should drive over to see them, and I said it was worth a try, because I had no idea how long the little ones would stick around.
So as I waited for her, cars began to stack up behind me. And rather than passing on my left, they also put on their emergency flashers and watched the little drama play out. Still, no sign of Jan’s little red car.
Finally a group of six of the little squealers broke away from the pack and headed around my car, and down the road towards the village. Once they reached a long driveway, they turned right off the road, and disappeared.
Still no sign of Jan.
Next, the driver behind me got out of his car and tried herding the remaining six squealers (yes, there was a total of 12, it turned out) in the direction of their escaped siblings. Unfortunately, they panicked and dove into the bushes at my left, and simply disappeared.
It was only then that Jan appeared — not driving, but on foot. It turned out that when she went to start up her car, its windows were so frosted over from the cold night we’d had that she thought it would be quicker to walk than to scrape the windows clean.
But by then it was too late. The six who presumably joined their mother on the hill were gone, and the six who had run into the bushes had vanished.
Aside from the disappointment that Jan felt, at missing the sight, another disappointment is that I didn’t have my camera with me. But I did a bit of searching on the Internet, and found this photo that will, at least, give you an idea of how cute these little creatures are:
A side note: As I may have mentioned in this blog before, our special group of bicycle-riding (and wine-drinking) friends is known as the Wild Forest Pig Contrada, a sort-of club that we formed in 1997 on a trip to Tuscany. There, a wild boar is known as a cinghiale, and is just as popular in rural Italy as sangliers are in rural France. So my encounter today had a special poignancy.