Friday, December 9, 2011

Chalet Shenanigans - Chapter 6

We Have a Little Cow Problem

Is there anybody here who didn’t read Under the Tuscan Sun or see the movie?  The funniest parts of the book were where the author had to adapt to the ways of a small, Italian village.  I have been doing some adapting myself to life in Chatel.  Remember I told y’all that the name of the valley is the Vallee d’Abondance?  Well, it turns out that we have our very own cows in our valley called, obviously, Abondance Cows who make, of course, Abondance Cheese.  Go ahead, google it.  It’s legit.  So, if you ever go in a Dean and DeLuca, ask the deli guy if he can get Abondance cheese and then we can have like a Karma connection across 5,000 miles and eat our Abondance cheese together.

Anyway, one of the farmers in Chatel has one of his “high” alpine fields just across the ice rink from our house.  Every day, all day, I get to work on my renovations while being serenaded with cowbells.  It’s very cool.  But.  The farmer also has another field somewhere up above and behind my house.  There must be some farming system of which I am unaware that makes “my” farmer move “my” cows back and forth between the two fields every other day.  So, picture about 30 giant mama cows and about 5 kid-sized cows trundling along our neighborhood roads being followed by the farmer’s wife, the farmer’s young daughter, the farmer’s young son and the farmer’s dog, swinging long sticks and yelling.  (Except the dog—the dog is neither carrying a stick nor yelling.  He is just running around and barking.  Duh.)

And they do this every other day.  I have no idea WHY, but it is what it is.  Cow exercise, maybe?  I don’t know.  After about a week of watching these random cow migrations all over the side of the mountain, I hear the bells one evening.  The bells are really close.  REALLY close.  They almost sound like they are in my yard!  Well, they were in my yard.  They were Cow Escapees.  Cows on the Lam.  The sun was setting and, apparently, Mrs. Farmer was home making supper and the Farmerettes were doing their homework, so it fell upon my farmer, himself, to come round up his errant charges.

He drove his SUV right up in the driveway, let his dog out of the truck, got out his long stick and herded the cows back up the road and into their correct field.  Meanwhile, I’m out on my porch waving and “bonjour-ing” and taking pictures because I think this is really fabulous, right?  Wouldn’t you?
The very next day, the cows got out AGAIN!  Obviously, once they had had a taste of a manicured lawn they were unhappy with their wild pasture land and they were back for more deliciousness. 

Except, this time, they walked around the lake directly ON THE LAKE PATH just like tourists and settled in my neighbor’s yard to happily munch away.  Now, my neighbor is not a nice, American ex-pat like me.  She is French.  And she was not happy, no sirree, bub.  She came screaming out of her house just about the time my farmer rolled across all of our lawns in his SUV again. 

Man, did she let him have it.  I have no idea what she was saying because it was all in super-rapid French at about two octaves above normal, but he got his cows out of her yard tout de suite.  He and his little daughter had those big, fat mamas RUNNING around the lake.  At one point, he looked across the lawn at me.  I waved and took his picture.  I think I gave America a good name that day, at least compared to Cruella de Frenchie.

The next day the whole Farmer family came to get all of the cows.  Apparently, the cows were being banished to their barn for the winter for misbehaving and running amok in our neighborhood.  I was so mad!  It was all my neighbor’s fault!  No more cowbells ‘til spring.  Now I just get to listen to Mr. Big swearing at the walls all winter long.

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