Friday, February 25, 2011

The Language of Shutters

 Life here in France ebbs and flows in an entirely different rhythm than it does in the States. The French eat later in the evening. Yes, those stories you've heard about not dining before 8pm or finishing dinner until midnight are true! They go to bed later and consequently, rise later. School starts at 9am; it's well after 5pm when the bus brings the kids home. Businesses typically don't open before 9 or 10am and close for two hours over the noon hour, staying open, then, in the evenings until 7pm.  Nothing is open on Sunday. Yes, again those stories are true...every business, shop, grocery store, bank and post office closes at noon.  There is no such thing as 24/7 in France. You have to learn to deal with it; it's actually quite pleasant. I can tell by the 'traffic' here in the village that it's noon by the number of cars going by bringing villagers home for lunch.

What all this means is that the French are not early risers...during the work week and especially on weekends. Closed shutters say this loud and clear. "Our day has not yet started; please respect our rest" A good neighbor doesn't call or come to visit when the shutters are closed. A good neighbor doesn't begin loud yard work while shutters are closed. A good neighbor doesn't walk her dog causing every dog within a half mile radius to start barking....if the shutters are all still closed.  Modern heating and energy-efficient windows and doors have made shutters unnecessary for keeping the house warm. There are no gangs of marauding bandits or invading armies for them to protect against anymore. But, shutters still serve an important role in the life of the village. They are part of the unspoken social language that allows this community to live together peacefully. Really...Sunday mornings are awesome. It's so quiet, it actually feels like a day of rest.

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