One interesting French word which has no obvious English translation is débroussaillage. It basically means clearing vegetation and probably isn’t far from the term “de-brushing” (as in brush wood). In our part of the world, with its abundant sunlight, general warmth and episodic but often intense rain, things grow at an extraordinary rate. The main task up at the Taradeau oppidum, which is increasingly becoming well known (and even has its own Facebook page – thanks Lénïac) is débroussaillage. It is slightly daunting to see where you cleared two years ago now in danger of being overtaken again by vegetation.

Having lost a number of Saturdays due to the wet autumn, we recommenced immediately after Christmas. Frankly it has not been the most inviting of tasks to assemble at 7:45 on chill Saturday mornings. We have however been rewarded by some splendid views and it does tend to warm up pretty quickly once the sun gets up. So here are some photographs.

When the temperature is around -5°C it’s good to warm up with coffee in the village
before going up to the oppidum
From the top of the hill you can see that the frost is still lying in the valley
Clearing the paths round the outside of the oppidum
The female pheasant walked calmly across the oppidum despite a noisy strimmer very nearby. The gecko was trying to warm up: we sympathised.
Time for coffee and, since this work party was in early January, galette du rois

When we first started doing the oppidum three years ago, it just seemed like a worth-while activity and something we simply thought we ought to get involved in. It has however, turned out to be an excellent entrée into getting to know people and has earned us a degree of respect and support from the village community and indeed the mayor. Given that, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re going through the formal process of getting a residence permit, having friends in the local administrative system doesn’t hurt. It may even help with the pruning of that most luxuriant of all vegetation: French bureaucracy.

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