There had been talk about a shed to store our firewood for the past two summers here in the Auvergne. So far, the wood was stacked up and protected by an unsightly tarp in the courtyard in front of our house. There had to be a better method.
So began the planning.
After numerous trips to the lumberyard and Brico Dépôt, husband and son took elaborate measurements, made drawings and moved all their power tools outside.
And so began the actual work.
After pouring cement footings, four thick posts were lifted into position.
Everything was carefully leveled.
The neighbors came over to offer advice and the use of their portable Mafell band saw, which husband and son now covet, of course.
Meanwhile, I applied some dark protective stain to the beams to match all the other wood on the house.
By the time my son had to leave back to Brooklyn, the basic structure for the hut was in place.
A week later, my husband had added a roof and some cross bars for strength and stability.
And to prove just how strong the new shed actually is, he decided to demonstrate.
Unfortunately, there was not enough time to add the clay tiles to the roof. That will have to wait till summer 2015.
This past week, I did something that I had wanted to do since I was a teenager, living in France.
In 1974, my mother took me and my sister to a piano concert at La Chaise-Dieu, a small town not far from our house. La Chaise-Dieu is known known for its Benedictine abbey, which was founded in 1043. The concert was part of the La Chaise-Dieu Music Festival, which was created in 1966 by Hungarian-born pianist Georges Cziffra .
I was too young to fully appreciate the event, but I always remembered the truly amazing setting of the Abbey Church filled with classical music.
The Festival, now in its 48th year, has grown and expanded tremendously. To my great joy, I realized that our dates here in France this summer overlapped with the festival, so I immediately bought tickets.
Last Thursday evening, my husband and I sat in the part of the church once reserved for the monks and were treated to a program of Mendelssohn and Schumann music by the St. Étienne Orchestra. Pianist Adam Laloum performed Schumann's "Concerto Pour Piano en La Mineur".
The setting, the music, it was all achingly beautiful. Just like that evening so many years ago with my mother, it was unforgettable.
It has not been all work here in the Auvergne this summer. A few days ago, we took a day trip just a bit South of our house to discover some new places. Our travel took us through Argentat on the shores of the Dordogne.
As many small historic towns here in France, Argentat's old houses are beautifully preserved and the pride inhabitants take in preserving their past is remarkable.
On the way back, we stopped in Rocamadour to have dinner and to watch the sun set over the city.
The list of projects for our summer 2014 in the Auvergne was long. Very long. Though we started on some of them as soon as we arrived at the beginning of July, the wet, cold weather slowed us down as the weeks passed by. It somehow seems as though there are tools lying about a bit everywhere in the yard and in the house. hat's why I am pleased that we finally managed to finish one task. We now have a new shade garden in the corner of the yard where before, there was nothing but a strip of ugly cement.
It all started because the joints of a section of stone wall needed to be redone. Hours were spent digging out the old cement from between the stones. (Thank you, Ecki, for all your help.) Then, the joints were refilled with a mixture of tinted lime and sand, which is much more original to the house. My husband perfected this tedious task over a couple of days.
Next, a section of old cement that ran along part of the house was busted up. Some of the field stones that were unearthed under the cement slab were used to define a planting area. Several trips into the forrest to collect some dirt followed.
Planting the rhododendron, fern, coral bells and hydrangea were my contribution.
Voila, our little shade garden is complete. Or almost, because the wall needs some more work. But hey, I am just glad that we can finally see some result of this summer's hard work.