Bastille Day In The Village

July 14th, the day of the start of the French Revolution.  A revolution is a successful revolt, to remind all you scorekeepers of history.  I really don’t know how much of French history is taught to the average French school child nor what emphasis is placed on the various historical events,  And I am sure that the various regions and departments (states to us Americans) add their own set of relevant histories.  After all, each has its own sense of importance and pride in the unfolding of such a dramatic pageant of nation building.  Of course here in the Haute Marne the cows and sheep greatly outnumber the locals and could well do without all the hoopla, it takes serenity to produce wool, milk, and meat.  Too many firecrackers and your steak next year will be tough.  This time of year the grains, the hay, and the grass in the meadows have turned various shades of tan and light brown, so one must be careful with fireworks.  And speaking of fires, to date we have had at least three fires in the village.  One due to a fire in the chimney flue and two due to electrical wiring.  While a few of the residents use fuel oil or natural gas for heating the majority use wood.  The village has its public forest for firewood and full time residents can apply for their allotment.  They will have to fell the trees, cut them up, clear the waste and pile it, then transport tht wood and split and cut again.  The other option is to assign one’s allotment to a fellow villager and pay for that firewood.  When walking around the fields and streets one can see a great many cords of firewood aging for a couple of years before being burnt.  Most of the rural areas in France and most of the other European countries are like that.  Between cows, sheep, and wood fires, Europe produces quite a volume of greenhouse gases.  That’s te one thing the revolution did not change.

Since noon the sporadic bursts of firecrackers continues as men and boys light them and take delight in the effects of such explosives.  I am not sure if this is their own tradition or they borrowed it from us.  I’m not even sure where they buy these fireworks since I have not seen the signs along the road on in the towns and small cities.  For the large pyrotechnique shows I think I may have t travel to Dijon.  Chaumont may have one but it is bound to be smaller.  Of course the regional government may provide either the money of the fireworks.  But I believe the main entertainment will be the communal meal that starts about six or seven tonight.  Some family member have returned to visit with their parents and some of the Parisians and other city dwellers have arrived to open their holiday homes fore a few days.  You always know who they are because they talk funny.  That is the reverse snobbism on the Parisians.  The locals here would stand out in a crowd in Paris.  The clothing is not so trendy, the foot ware less stylish.  But when one compares the British one can pick them out as easily.  Americans have no style as far as any European is concerned.  I would be in abject fear for my stylish life if it weren’t for the fact that the villagers here already know I’m American and that I am retired and don’t give  damn.  So I may make my appearance to the Fete, Don’t know as I haven’t made up my mind.  Seems I wasn’t invited.  Well, I have been a bit of a ghost this year since most of the work I have been doing on the house has been inside.  Plus the exceptionally hot weather curtailed my walks through the village and surrounding footpaths.  I almost expect next year to be cooler than normal.  Luckily, if that happens I have enough firewood left over to see me through those months.  I usually buy five stare, which is a square meter, of firewood at a time.  Thus in late April and early May is use the wood to heat the a couple of rooms with my wood stove.

Tomorrow the big box DIY stores will be open and I need to buy some T&G pine to make a few new shutters.  By the end of next week I want to be done with my projects, including the use of mortar to cement in the windows.  I had initially used foam but I don’t like to look of it so I’ll scrape that stuff out and fill in the gaps with mortar.  As I recall, one of the stores is having a sale on that pine I want.  I suppose I should buy some stain and make sure the shutters are set for winter.  You see, I celebrate independence in my own way.  I celebrate my independence by being able to do for myself, to learn how to do the work of a mason and a carpenter and a plumber and an electrician, and so on.  I celebrate true independence by not being dependent on others.  Now when I get back to the states and start the remodel of my house I will hire a contractor and cement workers and roofers.  Not that I can’t do that work but because I don’t want to take years to do it all.  Besides, I turn 68 this year and my body could use a helping hand.  I’ll do the plumbing and the electrical and some of the demolition and the painting, but I’ll let framers do their thing,  It’s cheaper in the long run.  Besides, I done it all myself before and it’s a lot of wear and tear on the body.  Independence means different things to different people.  I just choose to expand its meaning to include multiple choices.  Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite in all things human, why not?,


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