This is the view from our back gate, looking toward the left. It's a part-time neighbor's house. In other words, it's used as a vacation place — une résidence secondaire. When we first moved here in 2003, the house was lived in full time by a woman who died about 10 years ago at age 95. Her son and daughter inherited the house and the son bought out his sister. Then he passed away (cancer). His wife, who lives — as they both did — in the Paris area, now has a lifetime right to live in the house, I believe. She has children and grandchildren who will inherit the house when the time comes. Under French law, children cannot be disinherited by their parents. The neighbor is in her early 70s, like me.
Partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, I assume, the neighbor has not driven down here from Paris since last fall. We had a very rainy winter, and such weather does not encourage city people who own houses out in the country to come spend time in them. Just as the weather started to improve in March, France declared the grand confinement, requiring people to stay at home. Travel to a résidence secondaire was not allowed. So here's what the neighbor's yard looks like now. Nobody is tending to it.
Despite all that, the many rose bushes in the neighbor's yard have been covered in blooms over the past three months. Only now, after three weeks of rainy, gray, and almost chilly June weather, have some of the roses started to show signs of stress. These red ones are still looking good.
And these pink ones are right next to them. They grow between the road and the low wall that surrounds the neighbor's yard. She also owns a strip of land out behind her house and yard that has five or six apple trees growing on it. The grass and weeds under those trees is now chest high.
We walk by the neighbor's yard every time we go out into the vineyard with Natasha the Sheltie. It's been beautiful and it's too bad the part-time neighbor hasn't been able to enjoy it. I have no idea when she might come back to Saint-Aignan, or if — ne parlons pas de malheur ! — she might have contracted Covid-19. If she had, somebody would probably have told us.
Not all the rose bushes look as healthy as the ones above, of course. This one, for example, has seen better days. I assume the neighbor suspects that her yard is in sad shape. She must be trying to get somebody to come clean it all up, but I'm sure that's not an easy task when you live three or four hours away. Personally, I think having two houses to look after would, in practicality, be a real pain in the neck. Not to mention expensive and a source of stress...
Sorting out a garden that's been left to go wild all year is one of our biggest worries about not being able to return to France. Fortunately our gardening friends are cutting the grass and keeping down anything that is too rampant until we can get there. Arriving to a lot of hard work in the garden is no fun at all.ReplyDelete
Those roses are tough cookies. This pandemic is causing some strange problems.ReplyDelete
PS I made the dutch oven bread and it was delicious and easy!ReplyDelete
Being an avid gardener I feel very bad for votre voisine. I hope everything goes well for her in all respects.ReplyDelete
The pink roses are lovely. Do you have a way to contact the owner? Perhaps she would order the clean-up if she had some local companies to contact? Just a thought!ReplyDelete
Mary in Oregon
I can't imagine she doesn't have information about gardening services or free-lance gardeners here. In France, what you do is call the mayor's office when you need information like that. We have a company that does tree and hedge work for us, but I'm not sure they would be the right people to clean up her yard.Delete
Your comment about the drawbacks of owning a vacation home are on the mark - the obligations outweigh the delights, as we realized when we looked at possible properties, not to mention forcing one to spend vacations at a single place. RoderickReplyDelete
When you have two houses, something you want or need in one place turns out to be in the other. So you have to make sure you have two of everything. Then there are the taxes, upkeep, utilities... Walt and I feel we have our hands full with this one house. Besides, the U.S. is too far away. It's expensive to get there and get back, and then there's the jet lag — when you can travel at all.Delete
I'm sure it's not very appealing for you to have to look at an unkempt yard everyday. I certainly hope that your neighbor is not ill... or worse. I just learned, a few weeks ago, that the husband/father of my au pair family when I lived in Paris, has passed away. I didn't learn details of how, but, of course, it could have been the virus. He would have been only about 72.ReplyDelete
I told Betsy (ma soeur) about the no-knead bread you posted about yesterday, and she is hoping to try making it. She loves to bake!