I’ve been re-reading James Herriot’s book, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s a semi-autobiographical work based on his experiences as a country veterinarian in England from 1940 on. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel cozy and happy and optimistic about life, as he warmheartedly recounts his interactions with farmers, rural folk, and their animals.
We have a friend here in France who is a country vet, specializing in cattle. Today he and his wife took a group of us to visit a cattle auction where he serves as one of the vets who inspect the cattle before they are sold. It was incredibly efficiently run, with all sorts of modern, tech-y systems in place…but I still felt like I was entering James Herriot’s stories! All the farmers wore these long, black jackets, had tall rubber boots, and carried wooden sticks to keep the cattle in line. Their faces, mannerisms, and clothing perfectly fit my American imagination of a classic European farmer…and for some reason it’s always satisfying to experience things here that fit what they’re “supposed” to be like in my mind. Just how I’m sure a French person would be so tickled to go to America and see a cowboy!