The Sologne country around Nouan is like a wild but varied park, with grey-white sandy pathways leading off in all directions into a world of perfect solitude, open and inviting on all sides. The birch is predominant, its silhouette against the sky more delicate than any other, with rich yellow foliage studded with bright little wild roses, solitary chestnut trees, young firs, and here and there a great oak straight out of a Ruysdael, its lower branches spread out wide like a somber tent. Purple heather lies between the scattered trees, a sort of dry felt matting scorched brown. Wet green tracks, made by hunters, lead into copses and disappear under the waving bracken, and now and then, a field of rye or corn stands out like an atoll beaten by surf of mad plants and scantily defended against the encroachments of wild animals by its rampart of wire fencing and scarecrow lookouts. Little creatures spurt out at the side of the path almost under one's feet: pheasants, the heavy beat of their wings whirring like a motorcycle engine; rabbits teetering mechanically through the grass, their small rumps bobbing artlessly up and down in the sunlight; a squirrel running and gliding from branch to branch like a supple boa of red plumage, almost without substance; a hedgehog, slowly and deliberately poring over the carpet of dry leaves with his snout. Each walk-and the winding path can very quickly lead you off course and away from the inhabited world-becomes a marvelous adventure in a wonderland where one comes to new tracks or little crossroads with heart thumping. The wave of alarm caused by the passing of a man through this lovely wilderness, though, is slight, ebbing away quickly behind him like the wake of a small boat. This long walk, bathed in the beautiful oblique yellow sunlight of early evening, was truly delicious and gave me the closest vision that I have known of the Garden of Eden.
Here and there, as you walk beside a pine grove, the seashore sound of the wind rustling through the branches brings back memories from the furthest reaches of the mind, from the world outside; and for a moment the heart is touched by a feeling of joy and well-being. In this pleasant solitude too, one understands how it was that the poets of the medieval verse chronicles sensed the tragic and cantankerous aura that surrounds the lonely pine in the middle of this chaotic and artless world: black and motionless it stands, like a man lying in wait, filled with foreboding and heavy with memories.
Another walk: this time towards Marcilly through the pools and lakes of the Sologne. Sometimes, in the middle of a jumbled countryside of woods, copses and reed beds, the track will suddenly come upon a well cared-for and carefully mown lawn, a red-brick cottage, or a shooting lodge, all white at the end of an avenue lined with a white fence. They appear and disappear just as quickly, like a patch of blue in a cloudy sky. Only the long twisting umbilical cord of private paths, indicated by two Iime colored posts at the roadside, links the hunting lodges to the main track. These lodges, with their wide lawns dotted with trees, make one think of the market, pasturage and the lair: oddly enough the hunters here have followed the model of the burrow in adapting their habitat. From the road, all that can be seen is the outlet, mean and hidden: two grey sandy ruts, separated by a band of grass, which are lost in the green haze of the birch trees after the first bend. A country which remains closed and folded in on itself like a cloudy sky; a visit to it makes the adventure of the Grand Meaulnes and the lost chateau less improbable: the light disappearing behind the trees; the shepherdess seen from far-off in a clearing, but swallowed up again by the forest before she can be reached.