It’s that time again when the detritus of Christmas needs to be dealt with: carcasses boiled for soup, wrapping paper saved for re-use, and the alarming quantity of accumulated empty bottles recycled.
We are fortunate to enjoy excellent recycling facilities here. Glass, packaging, cartons, paper and cans can be deposited in bins at the end of the road and there is a splendid, brand new centre between us and St Félicien where you can dump anything from a barn door to a refrigerator. The site is completed by a small hut, charmingly stocked with items of bric à brac, furniture and household goods which are free for anyone to take away.
That is not to say that the farmers have entirely abandoned the traditional habit of having a private dump of unmentionables somewhere on their land.
We inherited our very own: a sort of natural cave half overgrown by a fig tree and containing an unlovely assortment of old pots and pans, bicycles, jam jars, bits of agricultural machinery and so on. We have gradually filled it up over the years with broken tiles and the fig tree flourishes.
However, although recycling may not be the first priority of the canny ardéchois peasant, they are masters at reusing and adapting items to new and sometimes surprising uses. It’s a thrifty practice which is known as la récup, short for récuperation.
Here’s a sample:
The owner of this garden shed must once have been in charge of renewing the local road signs. With true esprit de récup he has found a novel way to give them a useful afterlife.
Even the most optimistic motorist might consider that this Renault 4 has had its day.
Not a bit of it! Simply slice off the front section and engine, weld on a sturdy towing bar, close off with hardboard, not forgetting to cut out a couple of small windows et voilà, you have created a practical trailer with which to transport your hunting dogs in comfort and safety.
. . . . ça c’est de la récup!