Una storia di IvanBerardi

Questa storia è presente nel magazine Un anno a Gerardmer / A year in Gerardmer



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5 minuti

Pubblicato il 01 gennaio 2020 in Viaggi


I know, I know, you were wondering what had happened to me! Or maybe you thought you'd got away with it: that after the enthusiasm of the first two months I had finally packed it up. After all, this virtual diary, is the equivalent of a slap in the face for those who have some work to do...

But no: I'm still here. Panic over.

The thing is, the more time I spend in Gerardmer the less I have to bring this delightful literary jewel to you...

Instead, I find myself involved in the daily happenings that even a small mountain town can inevitably offer.

I could summarize these last few weeks like this: I would never have thought that after two months in France I would find myself sitting in a car, next to a nurse (Veronique) whose giant dog (Nitro) we take out for walks. On the back seat there's Mark, on Mark there's Ciao the small mixed-breed dog that usually hates being picked up. In this case, since being in Mark's arms amounted to a moral defeat for Nitro, Ciao didn't think about it twice, making himself all nice and cosy in there. Mini, Ciao's mother is next to them, in the middle, and Nitro, is on the other side looking out of the window, sulking. A small trailer is hooked to the car, it is loaded with donkey manure destined for the allotment that we are beginning to prepare in Sophie's garden. Sophie is our first local link. It goes without saying that this manure is strictly "cruelty free" being generously offered by the duo Caline and Tim: the two donkeys, mother and son, adopted by Veronique, who will never see a slaughterhouse.

So far so clear, no?

So, to recap ... Sophie was on Facebook looking for someone who could teach her Italian, I was looking for someone to talk to in French and so we met. Shortly after our arrival, we went to prepare sauerkraut the traditional way at her father's house.

Mark, on that occasion, had hinted that we were looking for a patch of land where we could make a vegetable garden and Sophie had proposed the overgrown lawn in front of her house.

Then it was the turn of the post on Facebook where we offered ourselves as free dog sitters for those who might need the service. And that is how Nitro became part of our lives and, with him, Veronique and the rest of the gang.

Veronique could not be happier with this opportunity and, as a thank you, she has offered us the use of her car when she is at work. Then, learning about the allotment, she decided to include her donkeys'shit in the bargain. Veronique is one that offers!

Tim, Caline with Nitro in the background. The allotment in the making
Tim, Caline with Nitro in the background. The allotment in the making

Meanwhile, being a gentleman of leisure, I have plenty of time to devote to another one of my little hobbies: trying to brush some acrylic on canvas and see what happens.

I have a motto: there is no pride in love. Yes, I am that deep. It would seem that there is no pride on Facebook either... in fact, I decided to publish some of my "work" on the local social media page. Unexpectedly, four of these works were consequently sold!

This is how my entrepreneurial spirit came to life: not happy with selling the canvases, I threw myself into the treacherous market for greeting cards.

They are based on a canvas I painted: a panorama of Gerardmer (or at least an interpretation), a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local association. Once again, Veronique and her connections at the hospital and in town are turning out to be an unexpected help. We'll see how it goes ...

IVan Gogh
IVan Gogh

In the meantime, Nitro is becoming a regular at our home: we take him out when Veronique is at work, then he stays with us and at around 7.00 pm she picks him up.

This, after she had to change all her window locks. Nitro after our first outings, not happy being brought back home, had in fact learned how to turn the handles so that when we were already well on our way home we found him running after us, very satisfied with himself as if to say : "Guys! Wait for me I am coming! "

A winter's prelude came with some abundant snowfalls that gave a "Christmas wonderland" feel to the paths by now well familiar to us. It didn't last long, in fact, this winter magic has been soon followed by spring like temperatures.

So we have spent our first Christmas in France: a mulled wine with Sophie at the Rouelle bar which is quickly becoming our local and Christmas Eve dinner with our friends Francesca and Fabien, Zen, their dog, and Nitro. The latter spent the night with us, the official version is that in this way Veronique could relax a bit more at her daughter's home where, between grandchildren and relatives, the presence of the ponydooddle would have complicated things. In fact, we just wanted to keep him a little bit longer. Basically, we gave ourselves a gift.

In the meantime, the tourists have fallen en masse on Gerardmer, warming up second homes, holiday accommodations and hotels. To confirm this, something that I have just learned: Gerardmer is in fact the third holiday place in which the French love spending New year's eve, after London and Paris! Eat that baguette Rome!

So, my dear friends...Happy new year!

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