Corsican Shepherds, a way of life ..

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Through the ages, history has shown us on many occasions, how the population was forced to take to the interior of the island, fleeing from frequent invaders and deserting the shores. The Corsican shepherd was no exception to this migration, and in this way, he could take care of his family and home, whilst still keeping an eye on the sea from afar.

Knowing well that their destiny was bound to nature and nature’s way of controlling everything, they forged their identity through adapting to their natural surroundings, and employing their energy to the maintaining of a genuine harmony. Armed constantly, their worry came from eventual intruders, those who could disturb the legitimate tranquillity of their environment.

To translate the language of the clouds, sense the rain arriving, relate to each tree, recognise every stone and pebble, plant and tree, perceive the disturbance of a forthcoming storm .. their perception was so sharp, they automatically remained a reference within their personal space.

Acute and sun battered, capable of spotting the smallest living creature, their attention remained on alert, always.

Solitary beings contented within, nature and the wild ‘maquis’ creating their authentic essence, coordinating and composing. Holders of the past too, for we must not forget their innate gift for transmitting, through narrative accounts of a past that once was .. adventures, legends, fantasy and descriptions. After caring for the flocks of sheep and goats throughout the winter in the meadows, protecting the herds – and always accompanied by at least one faithful dog, usually a “Cursini” (a breed of Corsican dog that has been recognised as such, some years ago) – when the warm weather arrives and the summer approaches, leaving to graze up on the mountain plateaus, where the snow has melted and fresh herbs await them – this period of time is called ‘transhumance’ and an essential step.

Today’s shepherds have somewhat undergone a certain transformation, although remaining keepers of herds, modern commodities have automatically altered their initial purpose, lifestyle has modified generations and a change of pattern has taken place. In addition to their daily tasks, summer commerce also takes place, and you have seen this when I related to them previously in my article on the GR20.  Their presence is more than ever required, for the renewal of growth and activity within the interior of the island is once again, essential. Regardless of everything, one can still find herdsmen here and there, fewer and further apart certes, but clinging to an existing heritage and culture that refuses to cease. The future will relate, repopulating being a crucial necessity, somehow I believe we will see this way of life increasing and progressing, for the better of a natural evolution.

At a later date, I will be telling you all about their singular and delicious cheese too – without fail.

Photo credit: Dominique Brunati Copyright ©

One comment to Corsican Shepherds, a way of life ..

  • wendalynn Jones  says:

    Lovely.

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