We were having lunch with E at the village café and I asked a simple question about lavender. What followed was a delightful imbroglio which she authorised me to relate, but without mentioning any names . . .
I had asked why all the lavender plants on the bank above the cemetery had been uprooted and whether there was a plan to replace them. Well, she replied, the problem was BEES, which were attracted to the lavender flowers and threatened to sting the elderly ladies of the village when they went to tidy their family graves.
Into the bargain, said the ladies, the bank is too steep and access to the cemetery is not only perilous on account of the bees, but hard to negotiate if you are in your eighties. So a rope handrail has been erected. However this has not met with their approval and there is a mega plan under discussion at the Mairie to reorganise the whole cemetery approach with a solid handrail and bee-repellent vegetation. These things take time however.
Meanwhile, the entrance to the Mairie and Post Office was redesigned a year or so ago, complete with level access, handrail, post box and tasteful shrub border. But, eh oui, the lavender in the border attracted more bees and the ladies could no longer post their letters without endangering their lives. So the post box was re-sited to the side of the Mairie, well away from the shrubs, and for a while all was well.
Then one day, it happened to be April 1st, the Inspector of Post Boxes put in an appearance. There had been a complaint. Apparently the position of the post box made it difficult to open it for clearance without scraping one’s knuckles on the wall. An inspection was duly carried out and the officer was appalled to find the box “hidden away in a poky corner, where no one in their right mind would think of looking for it!” E unfortunately took this for an April fool and was firmly corrected. Things were getting tense and she swiftly whistled up the village muscle power to move back the post box before the situation could escalate any further. And once again the lavender had to go!
It goes without saying that the village planters do not feature lavender. Mostly brick red geraniums and lurid petunias. This year however there has been a move to put in some perennials such as gaura and some non-bee-attracting small shrubs. The ladies at the far end of the village are not happy.
They want trailing geraniums as seen in the village centre and complain that the perennials are not bushy enough.
E is obliged to make a big detour on Friday mornings if she wants to get to the council meeting on time as they leap out of their houses and ambush her on the way. There has even been talk of acquiring a supplementary supply of geraniums for that end of the village although no extraordinary budget has as yet been authorised.
Meanwhile the lime tree on the place du marché is in full flower and swarming with bees so maybe our indispensible friends have found a satisfactory compromise by keeping to the high ground, and life on earth is safe for the time being.