Late Summer, Essoyes 2021

September 4, 2021 at 12:12 pm Leave a comment

Our New, Opened-Up View of Essoyes. Photo by Stephen Rueckert.

Well, it has not been a quiet week in Essoyes, and next week will be even busier because I am told that is when the vendange will begin.

This is the week we (that is, our family) had to say goodbye to our beloved épicéas (spruce) trees, another victim of climate change. (Of course I am well aware that around the world, including in my beloved city of New York, others have suffered much worse fates, this very week. 😦 )

Nonetheless, for us this was a big loss, and it was a big job to take these trees down. Fortunately, we were able to call upon our local paysagiste, one of whose specialities is “abbatage délicat,” to take on this enormous task. And délicat is indeed the right word for the work they did for us this week.

We were most impressed (plus relieved) to watch this team practice their expertise. Five (out of the 32 very tall trees that had to come down) were right next to our house, with a fence behind them, and a road on the other side of the fence, plus a farmer’s field. These guys–two guys, one with a ladder and a chain saw, the other standing at a distance with a rope attached to the tree–managed to take these huge trees down, one at a time, in such a way that when they came crashing down, they cleared the house by a very narrow margin, and also managed to not hit my beloved “Christmas tree”–a beautiful, majestic cedar, which is (thankfully) immune to the insects that have devastated all the spruces. This task was carried out with surgical precision. It was amazing!

And it was not a lucky accident that it turned out that way. This was the result of sheer professional expertise. I have often remarked on the excellence of the French in mastering their various métiers. Here again we saw that excellence demonstrated.

So while it was sad to see our lovely trees go, remembering how that line of evergreens had sheltered, more or less cocooned us here in our lovely French home, by the time we were able to arrange to have them taken down, we were not only ready, but actually quite eager, to have it happen. Because by the time they came down, they had not been green in the least for a good while; and there is really nothing at all lovely about looking at a line of dead trees. (It’s also no fun wondering every time a storm comes up which of them may come crashing down, and where!)

And so, in the end, the new and expansive openness of our view from here has felt liberating, even kind of joyful. The beauty of the sunsets that I have so often shared on my Facebook page no longer have to be taken while standing between the trees and holding my camera up: the view of that beautiful sky and the fields over which it performs its daily visual splendor now can be seen clearly right from our house, and all around our yard.

In other news: French kids went back to school this week. And I must say, this tweet, with a short video of the rentrée, which I saw on the news feed of L’Est Eclair (our regional newspaper) really touched my heart. I feel for all the parents, kids, teachers, and school administrators who are doing their best both to resume a semi-normal school year, and to protect the kids from that nasty virus. It’s not easy. I hope things will go well. The kids didn’t ask for this, and they don’t deserve it. 😦

Anyway: as the virus picks up in various places, these words again become very useful: wear your masks, wash your hands, practice those rules of social distancing. Be safe, be well. Prenez soin de vous…

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, A Long Way from Iowa: A Literary Memoir.

Entry filed under: About Essoyes.

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