Although we’re off in the woods by ourselves, we can see our nearest neighbours’ residence through the trees. It is situated at the very end of the laneway, requiring them to pass the house to and fro en route to work, groceries, lunch, dinner, etc. In fact, I believe their farm buildings mark the location of the original Montplaisir that (apparently) shows up in records 1000 years ago. Back then, the farm was probably fortified.

We were graced by a visit by neighbours a few days ago. I don’t know if they are from the farm, as our conversation didn’t get that far. Two ladies came up to the edge of the terrace, staying just outside the string of (non-charged) electric fencing that keeps the free-range livestock off the terrace and away from the potted plants: one had grey–white hair, the other, dark. They stood there being extremely polite and French for several minutes at least before I noticed them through the kitchen window and went out to introduce myself.

We’d hardly begun our conversation when their companion—a guy—came charging up the hill from the wood, swinging his limbs, shouting, making a fuss. I have no idea what his problem was: perhaps he doesn’t like all these foreigners in the area; perhaps he’s part of the group of farm folk who string electric fences across the hiking trails/ancient rights of way that link village to village on our hill; perhaps he didn’t like not being the centre of attention; perhaps he perceived me as being a threat to his women.

Whatever. He was clearly in testosterone mode, braying away at the top if his voice, flapping and posturing.

I thought for a moment that he was going push right through the fence.

But Gaston—our hero—came to the rescue.

Emerging from the house onto the terrace, he said in his manly way:

“Hey! That’s quite enough of that. You be quiet. Eat some grass. Enjoy the view. And let the rest of us have some peace.”

And that was that. The Guy shut up, backed down, turned away. The ladies just continued looking at all of us as if astonished at the lack of manners just displayed.

These “neigh”bours are the local free-range donkeys.

And it just goes to show that, no matter where you go, no matter how far you travel to get there, no matter how remote and isolated a refuge you seek out, there are jack-asses everywhere.

jackasses yes


  1. Bonjour Mimi and Gaston,
    We have a large population of local donkeys here in the States as well. They assembled en masse a couple of weeks ago for the “Republican Convention.”
    We love reading of your adventures! Thank you for affording us the vicarious pleasure of sampling every nuance and morsel!

  2. Hey, Nat – My condolences on recent Florida events — and not the hurricane.

  3. Les ânes returned for another visit last night, and Mr. Donkey-butt was just as excitable the second time around. Apparently it is no accident the French word for donkeys is only one letter different than a certain anatomical feature.

  4. I wish I hadn’t already known the end; the surprise would have been great – what a fun piece, Mimi.

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