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March 22, 2010

Michel was kind of sold with the house.

He was sold, at the time, as a gardner, and wood-supplier.  I think that he has to be around 45 years old, divorced and he has to kids.  He speaks with a wee bit of an accent I find.  He is a really nice guy, and somehow he incarnates what I imagine a French man to be like but also, in other ways he does not seem French at all to me.  First of all he is tall, big and wears his hair in a sort of comb-over.  To me, these characteristics are kind of non-French.  On the other hand, he hunts pheasant, drinks Ricard (nasty licorece flavored alcohol, or at least that is my opinion, my FIL would probably want to shoot me if he heard that though), and wears rain boots.  Which make him seem more French to me.

In the now three years that I have known Michel, we’ve never had a dull moment.  He promises to come and work in the yard (ie a big spring clean-up) for weeks before actually coming.  And they day he decides to come, there is no advance warning.  He just shows up and does it all in one day, stopping by to get paid a few weeks later.  He’ll randomly stop by with a new girlfriend, or a friend just out of the blue one day and they will continue to hang out for a few hours, drinking and chatting, before taking off again.  There is no real logic to any of this, but I like it.  He has a key to the gate and lets himself in and out as he pleases.  He used to have a key to the house as well, but when we changed doors and locks they only gave us two keys so there wasn’t a spare for him.  He will sometimes stop by with a ton of potatoes, or a few dozen eggs, once he even came by with a ton of chicken wings.

I have a ton of stories about Michel, I will start to tell them I think every now and then, as I think they are pretty funny.

This story dates from last spring.  During the winter of 2008 we lost one weakling apple tree during storms.  This bothered Michel, and he asked if we wanted to replace it with another fruit tree.  As is usually the case with us, we figured why not, and told Michel so.  What we didn’t know, is that Michel’s girlfriends brother worked at a pepenerie, and lifted the trees off a truck or something!  He had told us that he knew someone who worked at a plant store and due to that he could probably get a discount for us, but we didn’t realize at the time just how big of  discount we would be getting.  We have no idea how they got into Michels’ truck, most likely not paid for, but one day Michel showed up at the house, trees in tow.  We were standing out in front of the gate, shooting the breeze, and all of a sudden Michel looks at us, rather nervously, and says “We really better get these trees inside the gate.”  That was when it all came together for us!  The 50 euros were paying for the two trees (plum and cherry) was obiviously too cheap of a price, even with an employee discount!  Michel was scared that the gendarmerie was going to drive by or something and catch us with the stolen trees!

So, in came the trees, where they spent the night in the garage, our crisp 50 Euro bill was passed to Michel who came back the next day and planted the fruit trees in the yard.  Every time I see those young trees now all I can think of is how they came into our possession.  No one is going to come and take them back now, that is for sure, but it is just so, well, Michel.  Anything to save a few bucks and not only for him, for the people he knows as well.

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