Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel
I walked down the dirt road out front to the edge of the Rhône, to the house-boats amidst their jungle vines of tree-draped electric cables. From there, to the left. The island is a haven for curious electrical connections (and plumbing?) functionally individual. back in the US, I would think these haphazard arrangements would be standardized, and all trees within a few meters chopped down. But here, the trees lean to the south, and the lines just maneuver around the rough bark.
Down the path, taking a moment to work with Filou on “Come” and “Stay”. Just a couple of weeks ago when I'd visited Isabelle at the goat farm I (and she) nearly had a fit when Filou went careening into the goat’s pen to corral the very pregnant goats. He wouldn’t come, no matter how I’d called. Who would have thought that with a combination of poodle and bichon he would have aspirations to being a sheep dog? At last, Thank God, he’d been willing to “sit” and “stay” and I fetched him out, shocking myself on the electrical fence crossing back. Isabelle and Paul Pierre were forgiving – graciously not too upset. Needless to say, for the rest of the visit, Filou was on his leash at my feet.
Today I brought some comté cheese to tempt and reward him for good behavior. He came when I called, but no nearer than a couple meters, skittish that I might catch him. He needed reassurance of my good intentions to get him to inch closer, till he came and sat right at my feet. In between each command I let him run wild, exploring the path lined in cane and brambles. Occasionally he went so deeply into the brambles he nearly got his long hair caught. More than once I had to backtrack to where he’d entered, and get him to work himself backwards to find the exit.
A couple bicyclists rode past, and Filou tore after them. Coming back a moment later when I whistled sharply, then bounding off again. As if to say, yes, I hear you and I know you’re here, see you later Ma. No big deal. Small and friendly, Filou didn’t scare anyone. Though his sharp bark is both annoying and at times seriously painful. However, when you come from a family with lots of superbly well trained dogs... it’s embarrassing to have one that doesn’t particularly like the command Come. Ah well, I'm working at it.
The cane stretched high on either side of the path, waving in the breeze or falling over to block my way. A recent rain storm had left a few muddy puddles to be avoided (or used for a quick drink by Filou). The under brush was layered with logs and debris from the flood three years’ earlier.
Was I crazy to purchase a house that could and would be flooded one day? But, it smelled good, and other than the front door that I'd replaced shortly after its purchase, had clearly not been damaged by the floods it had been subject to. And, where else could I have found a country house just five minutes from the center of town? A plus was that the flood status of the island had placed a ban on all new construction. Thus the farmers’ fields outside my door will remain such. Their crops will rotate, as they do in this part of the world, but no condominiums and developments would be put there. The price had been right too. A good chunk lower than equivalent homes in other tempting neighborhoods. And, when I saw it, I’d liked it.
It was as simple as that. I’d been looking for over six months when I visited this house. And nothing I’d seen had been remotely tempting. Many had been post-war, built with cement blocks, square structures, with no soul “sans âme”, dark and dank, and nearly all smelled odd. I’d seen a couple that had been quite beautifully renovated with snazzy kitchens and bathrooms. But in the end, I preferred a simple bachelor’s pad, clean, but not over done, not decorated, where I could put my own touch. I needed to be in charge of my home, my surroundings. And this house, a frame in need of filling, simply felt right.
The path continued along the water's edge, in front of a few beautiful homes. Filou’s presence drew out a large newfoundland, happily behind a fence, and a yapping terrier at the next. The path then wound back into the woods, with glimpses of the River still to the right. A lone rower passed by, so silently that if I'd not been looking I wouldn’t have seen him.