Quiet, Please

Friday, 30 July

Incessant noise hews the mellow summer air and crushes the ability to think. In Paris yesterday, hands over my ears, I stared at our kitchen wall, expecting it to crumble at any minute under the deafening, juddering drilling from next door. In the Perche, the hammering and sawing, the workers' droning radio music come at me in stereo as, sandwiched in my temporary office, our bedroom, I try to write this blog or make progress on a new novel. I avoid the living room altogether because the dust collects as fast as it is removed. The disruption of renovations, ours and others, is beginning to seem a permanent state, our inescapable karma.  

Now, I know that I shouldn't complain about our own project. It's we who wished it, and it won't get done without the commotion. We are fortunate to be able to afford the noise. But repeat this irrefutable logic as often as I may, my nerves are still being grated to shreds.

At least here in the Perche, after a long stretch of uninspiring changes—it’s hard to get excited about new pipes and electrical wiring—progress now sparks some enthusiasm when we open the door to the main house in the evening and inspect the day’s work.

Most notably, the enduit, which in the Perche means a sandy coating that leaves a hint of stone apparent, has been applied to the walls in the entry...

I approve

...living room...

So do I...I think...

...and kitchen...

Yes. Very handsome.

Upstairs the new layout takes shape. Partition walls have gone up.

Close your eyes and imagine an office

Floors are being laid in the bathrooms.


But as you can see, my new office will not be finding its creative feng shui any time soon, and no guests are going to be showering chez nous in the coming months.

Beyond the aural distress, there is the visual affront. Work sites are messy and ugly, and not just inside. Outside too, there is stuff everywhere, dissuading you from pottering around the garden, or even wanting to be in it...  

...whilst blighting the view beyond it...

Fortunately, as she so often does, nature comes to the rescue. Unlike much of the planet (think 50°C/122°F in Vancouver), our swath of Europe has had an exceptionally kind summer. Temperatures have only risen above 30°C/86°F a couple of times. It has rained and rained some more but not flooded (think Belgium, Germany, China). In contrast to last summer, the leaves are still on the trees in the Tuileries…

…and the countryside is an explosion of green.

Our recently dredged pond is thriving.

And forging ahead after Tasha on our morning walk, I dodge flowers and duck brambles that have poked their delicate heads, extended their thorny tendrils, into the path.

Wild carrot going wilder

I often stop at this field of sunflowers. In fact, I could hang out all day with these towering Perchois, whose faces follow the sun.

Sunflower Central

Last week the wheat was harvested in the fields just beyond our property. It struck me this morning that I have been more fascinated than usual by the uncollected bales of hay. Balled up, tightly wound and spatially isolated, they are an apt backdrop for this second Covid summer.

Making hay and socially distancing

The angst I am feeling is not only due to the noise and unsightliness of the interminable building projects around me. With its Greek-ified variants spreading like the wildfires that are erupting around the globe, and the ever-changing restrictions imposed by governments in an attempt to control it, the virus creates its own inner din, a persistent thrum of uncertainty. Covid living too is beginning to seem like a permanent state, our inescapable karma.  


If you like these photos, there are lots more on my Instagram account, @flemingm6