A House in Provence, Chapter 19

Our Yard and Bugs

There is so much that I want to do in the yard but can’t. First of all we have to wait for dirt to be brought in to fill in some low places. One of these areas is behind the pool where I want to do the majority of the planting with lots of bushes and trees, making it as lush as I can with plants that don’t need a lot of water. The area behind the pool is huge and in order not to have to work full time to keep the garden up, use less water and just generally make it look good, I have decided I need to put in some small walls here and there, maybe some trelleses, make some “walls” out of plants. That way there will be a large area we won’t see and can do the minimum with.
This being not only summer, but autumn, 2004, we just wait for the dirt. A man did come and dumped a huge pile of dirt and rocks across the road and told us he would be back in September to move it to our yard. The only problem is, we have to wait at least a year for all of the dirt to settle so I am afraid to try much of anything, not wanting my work to have to be done all over again if a bush or tree sinks a foot or so.
Maurice and I have been working in the area where we can which is below our house where we have been making steps out of dirt and rocks. One thing our property does not lack is rocks. They are everywhere in Provence. A lot of rocks were uncovered when our house was built and, to my surprise, we used them all up with our steps, the size I wanted anyway. I know they are under the dirt but I need some sort of tractor to get to them. There are some good sized rocks in the pile across the street and I have raided that. No one is living in the house below us and we have taken a wheel barrow down the steep road to get a few larger rocks. I don’t want to take a lot as they will probably need them for future landscaping and I feel like a thief when we do it. I’ve edged alot of paths with rocks and I am not sure where I will find my new supply.
I now notice all of the rock walls and edgings as we drive around our house into the country looking at how it has been done. Many walls have no cement or dirt, just the rocks themselves. I would love to watch how they are constructed.
I’ve noticed, also, that rocks from different areas, even those close by, are different colors. Our property has a lot of shale and some golden-white colored stones. Those delivered and dumped across the street come from Grambois, just a few miles down the road, and they are in shades of ochre and rust. I have found that shale easily falls apart and isn’t good to use if it is exposed to the air and rain. It chips all over the place.
Then there are bugs. I knew from my first experience on the property before we even started building that there would be many flies. Maurice and I had several big discussions, dare I say arguments, about flies, the source of which is the sheep farm up the road. He wants to leave the doors wide open for the fresh air which would be fine with me if the house didn’t become invaded by tons of flies. He thinks I want to live in a bubble, afraid to live as one with nature. That isn’t it at all. I really have a phobia about flies on my food and in my kitchen. He said, when he was brought up on a farm, they just accepted flies as a part of life and did fine. I finally did a google search on flies wondering if I was being a little paranoid and found that flies can carry over 15 diseases, some of them very serious such as typhoid. Once the air conditioning is needed doors have to stay closed so it isn’t as bad, but I am constantly killing flies in the house even so. I have had several French guests who left their windows open upstairs in the bedrooms and I walked into our kitchen to be greeted by a whole new group of flies to kill.
There aren’t as many mosquitoes, Provence being fairly dry, but there are those funny looking bugs that suck your blood, and also little flies shaped like little stealth bombers that lay their eggs under your skin, a yucky thing for me to contemplate.
Then there are the wasps. We didn’t see any of them in the Spring but they certainly arrived with the summer. At first I thought they were what I call “garbage bees” as they hang around garbage and, when eating outside, they come hovering about trying to pick up a piece of meat. I didn’t think they were that harmful, only very annoying, until Maurice’s son got bitten by one, followed by me. They only bite if you put your arm or leg on one. My, did it hurt, and I had a huge bump on my arm for about 5 days which itched and burned and woke me up in the middle of the night for several nights. We finally bought a bug zapper, one of those things that glow purple, but they only attract moths that I can see, the wasps being interested in food not light. Then we bought these little plastic covered bowls with a whole in the bottom. Filled with a beef broth, the wasps are attracted to the smell, go in the hole and then can’t get out. In an hour we trapped 7 of them. I would like to get rid of them at their source but, with our land being so large, I can’t track where they are going. I was told to be careful around my lavender plants as they often make nests near them in the ground. I have to go and cut off the flowers in September or so and will have to be vigilant to not get attacked.

One thought to “A House in Provence, Chapter 19”

  1. I’m printing this out so I can read it in order. Can’t wait. We were supposed to attend a wedding in Provence but it had to be delayed and we were unable to make the new arrangements. I was bummed! I’ve always wanted to go.

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