The pebbles in our river are extremely beautiful. Billions of them, but all different, ultra-smooth. White or beige under the sun. A delicate gray when the sun lies down. Around here, people come equiped with plastic transparent sandals in the summer. You immediatly spot tourists and out-of-town folks by the river side: they limp and moan, bare feeet on the beautiful but cruel pebbles. We use our river pebbles for everything: cars and doors stops, ashtrays, head-rests, and building material, of course.
A progressive mayor has launched a small festival (fauna-flora-history) to honor our river. Artists in residence will exhibit their work in the river bed (dried up in august). They invited a scholar as well, for a public lecture on the history of our common pebbles, in a café by the TGV tracks where local leftists take refuge.
The scholar teaches geology at no less than the most prestigious British university. He lives part time in the area, in a second home be bought twenty years ago, before the english invasion of rural France. Very professional, our scholar has prepared slides for his lecture.
Our common pebbles took their veins (calcified micro-organisms) during the Miocene era, when the area was covered with a tropical sea, swarming with wild life (note the abundance of fossils). It takes approximatively a century for a pebble to navigate the full lenghth of the river (around one hundred kilometres). A very brutal natural disaster (hurricane? tsunami?) occurred right on my beat, a few millions years ago. The fossils burried in the hillock where the medieval tower now stands were scattered miles around. Those are a few of the fascinating details I learnt on our common pebbles.
The scholar advised us to take a close look at the low-sides of the new crossroad roundabout, recently dug out on the outskirt of the nearest town. The geological layers exposed by the roadwork apparently tells the ancient history of the district, in one glance. When a slow chicken-truck stands in my way at the new roundabout, I now stare with respect at the still raw trenches.