My trip to Montreal led me to the town of Danville in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I went there to visit Gallerie des Nanas, which I only knew from their website and occasional email exchanges with Jean-Robert Bisaillon. (Much more about the gallery in subsequent blogs).
You know how much I love diversions from the path, so I have to tell you about my first half-hour in Danville. Danville is a beautiful, historic town with a population of about 4,000 residents, all of whom seem to know each other. (Much more importantly, they all seem to like each other!) Anyway, upon my arrival in Danville, I went out to meet Jean-Robert at a cafe and we were soon joined by octogenarian Hertel, the local diviner and story-teller/historian. He was delighted to have a “tourist” in town with whom he could impress with stories of his magical skills.
Hertel described his special ability to find water beneath the ground, just by walking around with a forked branch, which points downward when it reaches an underground water source. Hertel has been a diviner for many, many years and he is never wrong. Not only can he locate a water source, but he can tell you how far down you have to dig. His abilities are so well-developed that he can find water by looking at a map. He described an incident where he pinpointed a source of water for his brother, who lived thousands of miles away, just by looking at a map, and “feeling” where the water was. Now, I tell you, I was damned impressed! If I lived in Danville, I would accompany Hertel on all of his searches just for the heck of it. And I would also ask Hertel to mentor me as a junior diviner.
The funny thing was that talking with Hertel reminded me that when I was a young child, I remember my Italian grandfather walking around some property in the country with a forked branch, looking for water. I don’t remember the outcome of the event, but I do remember just taking it all in stride, as if all “old people” did this on a regular basis. Of course, looking back on it, I wonder if this is an “old world” craft and skill that has been lost since we moved to cities where it would never occur to us* (*me) to look for water anywhere other than a tap over the sink.
And I wonder if I could find water with a stick? What an exciting prospect. I will practise close to a reservoir to hone my skills before charging money for the performance. Maybe this is my second or third career. Stay posted for further developments.