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France, Anatole

Madame de Luzy

Tonight’s story came from one of several boxes of books that were recently given to me by a stranger, someone apparently vying for the title of Miette’s Best Friend.

And as I mention when reading tonight’s story, this alone makes today one of the best days anybody’s had, in a good long while (if not EVER). There are some real treasures here, among them, a wilderness guide from 1979 written not by an enthusiastic back-to-the-land trailblazer, but by a wondrously grizzled mind capable of gems like this:

At this point, I’d like to throw in a few words about the bright blue, red, dazzling yellow, and orange fabrics used in outdoor clothing, pack bags, and tents. Millions of hikers and backpackers wearing these gaudy colors are turning the wilderness into one vast Coney Island. You look out across a magnificent forested valley. Not a sign of humans anywhere. No? Look again. Over on the far side is a trail, and suddenly you see it — a moving bright red spot, followed by another, and then another, four altogether. It looks like a line of red ants marching along single file. Your vision of the vast wilderness is ruined. Had these hikers been wearing forest green, brown, or russet clothes and packs, they would never have been seen at that distance. When you enter an established campsite, what do you find? Maybe dozens of tents so brightly colored that they practically knock your eye out. This colorful practice is a relatively new phenomenon. The old idea was to wear colors and live in tents that blended and harmonized with the greenwood. I don’t understand these brightly colored “environmentalists.” They must be colorblind!

Of course, if he’d written this today, he’d be condemned for his impolitic prejudice against the colorblind. Know that I’m reprinting this passage for stylistic and training purposes ONLY, and by no means think that the colorblind population is incapable of selecting forest-appropriate outdoor clothing.

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By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

1 reply on “Madame de Luzy”

i look forward to your additions with great anticipation and have never been disappointed
please keep reading……..no pausing…..
thankyou
ian

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