Day 4 in Bernay-en-Ponthieu with Stories We Tell

Each day is packed with activities alternating with delicious food (- did I mention the food?).

Dooryard in Bernay

This morning we did a bit of a longer exercise than many we have done so far. We went out in groups of 3 to explore the village, returning to expressing our own story embedded somehow in the local environment, each of us through a specific medium – sound, visually, or in text.


Where we are working is next to a stone Elementary school, our work (play?) often accompanied by the vibrant sounds of children in the schoolyard.


This is my story from today. Posted here with thanks to the group, to the experience that is making all this possible.


Marcel runs.

He runs and runs.

In the morning he runs to the breakfast table. He wiggles in his chair, eating as fast as he can. His family is always saying to him, Marcel! Attend!

But Marcel cannot wait. His mind is full of all the things he wants to do each day – smell the flowers, see the mistletoe leafing out in the trees, play football with his friends.

Each day he wiggles in his chair, eating as fast as he can – Crunch! Munch! Snarf! – and leaps down, running out the door.

His father calls after him, “Marcel! Attend! You must take your lunch!” But Marcel has already run, shoes undone, around the corner and out into the lane.

One morning, Marcel ran to school so early that the other children were not there yet, only the birds, foraging in the cobbles for seeds and forgotten sandwiches. He ran into the schoolyard shouting to the birds, “Caw! Caw! Tweet! Tweet! I am Marcel and I will find some seeds for you!”

The startled birds flew up and regarded him suspiciously from the surrounding trees as Marcel ran in circles beneath them.

He ran around and around, peering behind the trunks of trees, looking past the stone walls of the schoolyard, but he didn’t find any seeds.

“I will find some seeds for you!” he called to them as he ran past the iron gates. The birds called to him, “Marcel! Attend! We don’t need your seeds!” But Marcel, only hearing ‘tweet, tweet, tweet’ was already gone, jacket undone, down the lane.

He ran down the long lane between the fields, lined by fences, the fence posts covered in ancient lichens.

He ran through the village, looking under rocks, peering through iron gates and into dooryards until he saw some backyard chickens, scratching in the stones.

Marcel could not wait. He ran into the dooryard calling, “Cheep, cheep, bok, bok! I am Marcel, can you share your seeds with me? Where are all your seeds?” The startled chickens ran into their hen house nests, peering out suspiciously from the safety of their doorway.

The chickens thought, “Funny little boy. What does he need seeds for? We should ask.” and so they called out, “Marcel! Attend!” but Marcel, hearing only ‘cluck, cluck’ had already run on into the lane, his shoes and jacket flapping.

Marcel ran. He ran past the blooming snowdrops, an idea in his head – “I know that smell…” Following his nose Marcel ran until – CRASH! He came to a barnyard gate.

Marcel could not wait. He shouted to the cows in the barnyard, “I am Marcel! I must find some seeds – do you have any seeds for me?”

The cows lifted their heavy heads from their trough, and looked deliberately and long at Marcel. “Seeds?” they thought, “whatever would we cows do with seeds? We should tell him shake some sense into his head.” So the cows called out, “Marcel! Attend!” but Marcel, hearing only “mooooooo” had already run on, his hair blowing in the gathering breezes.

Marcel ran and ran, until he came to the cemetery. He ran through the well tended stones, as the rain began to fall. He ran to the end of the cemetery, where there were no stones, but many, many molehills. At the sound of his footfalls a mole poked up his head.

Marcel ran up to him, dropped to his haunches and called to the Mole, “I am Marcel – I have been looking everywhere for seeds – do you have any seeds for me?”

The Mole looked at Marcel, and looked at the soil. The Mole looked at the stones of the cemetery, and looked at the soil. The Mole raised his eyebrow and quietly said to Marcel, “I don’t see any seeds up here, but you could come with me into the tunnels of this cemetery, see what we can find…” as he beckoned Marcel with his pointed, digging, claw.

Marcel’s eyes got wide. He thought to himself, “Marcel. Attend. This is not the place to look for seeds.” He stopped. He listened. He could hear the wind, feel the rain come harder, and deep in the distance there was the sound of children playing. He tied his shoes. He closed his coat. He pulled up his hood.

With the wind behind him, turned and ran back the way he had come.

Past the lowing cows and clucking chickens, under the trees with budding mistletoe, through the lanes and farmers’ fields, through iron gates and under window ledges until he arrived back at school.

Marcel stopped running and looked up.

The birds? They were gone, their bellies full.

He looked around the schoolyard as a friend’s voice rose above the rabble of the games, “Regard! It’s Marcel! Join our team! Run, Marcel, run!

And Marcel ran.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *