Monday, January 29, 2007

M. ou Mme. Dwight Reid: It's Official



Click on Photos to Enlarge.
There was a brief moment sitting at the Credit Agricole Bank in Chalabre this morning that I doubted whether we could pull off getting a French bank account. First of all, our interpreter Lizzie, aka our estate agent, called to say that her car wouldn't start and we should proceed without her. That in itself was rather limiting, but Leticia at the bank was gracious and had obviously been through this before. I was sure our documentation was in order: birth and marriage certificates, 3 months statements from prior electric, water, gas, sewer, bank, and investments. All this to apparently prove that we do indeed live where we say we live in the States. The stumbling block was that I chose to keep my maiden name when Doug and I married. This is not the French way. They do not have a way to accommodate two names on the ownership of the checking account, and the French man always is listed first. No ifs, ands, or buts. Well, I insisted on maintaining my existence and was assured that my name as "Nancy Reid Procter" will be on the checks, but had to compromise on the statement address. Rome wasn't built in a day, eh? Am I saying that the French have a thing or two to learn from us Americans...........
We have spent hours just driving from village to village, taking in the landscape and attempting to assess those places where we would like to live. Unlike the States, where miles of Wal-Mart, Costco, and Home Depot obstruct and interrupt our vision on the outskirts of towns, France is definitely more civilized. Rows of hundreds of the London Plane tree line narrow roads entering villages, providing needed shade in summer and a bit of a windbreak otherwise. In the center of villages the plane trees (platanus x acerifolia) has been planted for centuries in Europe because of its tolerance to pollution. 45,000 of these trees were planted along the Canal du Midi, connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and dating back to the 17th century. They provided essential shade and erosion control. The London plane tree is a hybridized version of the western plane trees, commonly known as the American Sycamore (platanus occidentalis), one of my favorites because we had one in my front yard growing up in Indiana. Since the plane tree spreads its branches rather broadly, it is necessary to restrict their growth in the center of villages. This process is called "pollarding", and results in prolific growth out of the bolls that are produced by cutting off all the limbs during the middle of winter. For those of us who appreciate natural unmanaged forests, aka Yellowstone National Park, this is quite a stretch. So all of this is helping me to understand other cultures. And they are not all about me.

4 comments:

John Kaser said...

Hi Doug and Nancy,

I enjoyed your discourse on the platanus sp. and thanks for putting your journey our here for us to peruse. You might enjoy a book called "the landscape of man". I forget the author, but it's quite the history of our attempts to try to bring some of nature down to a human scale for our comfort and enjoyment. best regards, John

sarah alexander said...

hi guys!

I just wanted to thank you guys for keeping the blog--it has become part of my morning routine! It feels really personal too, like you're writing it just for me. And the pictures are great too.

Keep up the good work! you've got quite an audience!

Cousin Kathy said...

Nancy Procter! Assuming the husband's name? Well, I guess you need a few months to get those French men in order. So are congratulations REALLY in order here? BTW - how do you say "appendage" in French?
Love, Kathy & Dave

Noah said...

the plane trees are beautiful. Not untamed like Yellowstone, but I think thats one of the major differences, not much has escaped the human touch in Europe. The difference is that the touch is more elegant and softened by time. Sculpted plane trees rather than Wal-mart...