Remember that really old TV series, Green Acres, where a city slicker decides he wants to live in the country and drags his fashionable wife there where they meet all sorts of wacky characters? The theme song entered my head today for some reason, probably because we are living deep in the country. I haven’t met any wacky people that I can think of but living in Provence can sure be different from living in the city. Of course Mother Nature can hit you unexpectedly with all sort of things-remember that freak wind storm that knocked down hundreds of huge trees in and around Paris? It just seems like you are more up close and personal with nature here. It sits right outside your back door and you never know what you will find when you walk outside whether it be poisonous caterpillars, wasps, flies or thousands of weeds, not to mention flooding or fires.
It has been an extremely wet winter here in Provence and the rain continues into spring which sets the stage for my story-it was a dark and stormy night with heavy winds. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3 AM with a sort of upset stomach so got up to read for a while. My cat, meanwhile, was throwing up himself every fifteen minutes or so with some sort of problem. I had forgotten to turn on the dishwasher when I went to bed so decided to do so. Right after that I heard a loud noise. I sort of looked around the house and at the dishwasher but didn’t see anything that had fallen on the floor so forgot about it. For some reason at 7 AM or so when Maurice got up, he looked out our bathroom window. He never does that. He was wondering for some reason if I had closed our new gates on our new wall the day before. I was on my computer when he said, “Linda, come here!” as he opened our front door. There on our driveway was a huge tree which had formerly stood up above on our neighbor’s property but which had sort of leaned onto ours, a tree probably two hundred years old. It totally blocked our garage and we couldn’t get our car out. Of course, this was the day when we had not one but two doctor’s appointments in Aix. Our new wall was gouged with a deep trench in one place and some tiles had broken off the corner of our roof. The tree missed hitting our house by inches except for that one corner. I still haven’t seen the plants underneath the tree’s body but I’m thinking that there will be some major damage there and maybe on the retaining wall which took most of the brunt of the fall. A neighbor kindly offered to take us to Pertuis where we caught a bus to Aix. We didn’t arrive back to our home until almost five. By then some forest type guys with huge saws had come and gone and cut away what blocked our garage but a lot is left. I don’t know when that will be finished. For some reason they cut the largest portion of the tree trunk at the top of the hill and it must have rolled down the hill because there was now a gouge on our garage.
Thinking about it all, we think it was a convergence of reasons-the perfect storm as they say-that caused the tree to fall. A few years ago they widened the drainage ditch on the side of the street for rain runoff as our neighbor was getting flooded out each time it rained. We think they must have cut some major roots when they did this. I had noticed that each summer the tree had fewer and fewer leaves and that it dropped a lot of braches and twigs in our yard. I should have spoken up and then maybe the tree could have safely been cut down but, coulda, woulda, shoulda. It’s too late now. Then we had that huge amount of rain over the last six months or so and then a big wind the night the tree fell.
But, there’s all sorts of ways in which we were lucky when this happened: the tree could have hit our house, it could have fallen on my son’s van a few weeks before, it could have fallen the night before Maurice had to take his son to catch an early train back to Paris, our car could have been parked there, somebody-maybe meor Maurice-could have been standing there when it happened, if Maurice hadn’t opened the bathroom window that morning we wouldn’t have know it happened until we tried to back out to go to Aix. So even though we have an incredible mess to clean up, I still feel lucky but, to tell the truth, I’m sort of ready to pack it in and go back to Paris. I’m hoping for a warm and sunny summer with no rain at all.
Notice there are no roots on the trunk sticking up. I think the whole thing was rotten.
See how close it came to the house?
A little closer view. What a mess.