La Venoge

by Jean Villard Gilles

We’ve a really nice canton:
it’s got calves, cows, sheep,
chamois, pike, swans;
lakes, orchards, forest,
even a glacier, at Diablerets;
tobacco, wheat, vineyards,
but a chap from Geneva – pure jealousy –
said to me with a smirk,
“Hope you don’t mind me remarking,
but, well, you haven’t any real rivers.”
He’d completely forgotten about
the Venoge!
A real river? At any rate, it’s water
and pretty deep.
No one’s saying it’s the Yangtze
but it’s ours, all Vaudois,
whereas those Genevans
have just got a tiny bit of Rhone.
Might as well say, “We’ve got the Rhine” –
as if anyone’s got it!
No way – it buggers off
to France and Holland
whereas the Venoge
stays put.
Between you and me, it’s quite
an expedition, from end to end;
at first it tries to put you off,
going off on great detours
instead of taking a straight line,
and not an inn or village in sight.
It likes dawdling,
getting bigger, then charging off
like a wonky clock.
Sometimes it’s a bit like
the Colorado –
only smaller of course.
It has some delightful spots,
picnic places.
Then all at once,
in between two calm bits,
it goes crazy, churning round,
which is where you get anglers
in the heat watching for trout with
dark looks like dour doges.
It turns frisky,
does the Venoge,
when the fish tickle it!
It rises in the Jura
but when it passes La Sarraz
it realises it’s mighty close
to turning north
and off to Germany with you!
Close one – but it sees in time,
from real close up,
as its sister, the Orbe,
heads forYverdon and on
to Olten. “Sorry,” it says,
does the Venoge,
“north’s a bit chilly.
I like the Vaudois sun,
and just between ourselves,
I’ve a regular date…
And off it surges,
jinking and twisting,
and now it’s downhill all the way,
but it’s quite a way and hot work
and when it falls lovingly
into Lake Geneva’s arms,
right in front of those Savoyards over there,
it’s in a lather, the Venoge.
But as you can see, it’s a
hundred per cent Vaudois!
It’s not often riled, a bit indecisive,
mostly likes the happy medium,
says “If you can’t, you can’t!”
and goes its own way.
It doesn’t think much of
folks putting it in their wine,
but it wouldn’t mind
the good old canton of Vaud
pouring its wine
in the Venoge!