My humble metallic mailbox at Gamone is now surrounded by so many boulders that visitors might imagine that I'm trying to fortify it against invaders. Initially, that was almost true. I had installed the mailbox—solidly, in a hidden concrete base—in an ideal position for the postwoman, enabling her to deliver mail without getting out of her little yellow automobile. Then I discovered that trucks stopping at Gamone often failed, on the way out, to see my mailbox in their rear-vision mirror. To let their tires know that there was an object to be avoided, I piled up a few rocks around the mailbox. Since then, with the help of the Holy Spirit (in charge of messages of all kinds, both heavenly and earthly), my mailbox has survived.
Today, the extra rocks have nothing to do with protecting my mailbox. It's merely a matter of having no better place to store the boulders resulting from my recent demolition of the old wood shed.
Talking about mailboxes, I've often wondered why my neighbor Bob, a hundred meters up the Gamone road, doesn't have one. At first, when there was no macadam from my place up to his, it was normal that the postwoman should leave Bob's mail at my place. That system has been in place now for several years. But, as of a couple of months ago [when my South Grafton friends Andrew and Ingrid Pollack dropped in on me, during their rugby excursion to France], a fine macadam road has existed from my place up to Bob's. And I've even offered him a fine secondhand mailbox that comes from Christine's place in Brittany. But Bob wants to carry on living without a personal mailbox, preferring to rely on me to carry on receiving his mail in my big fortified mailbox. Funny, no?
Not really. In France, having a personal mailbox is akin to having your name listed publicly in the phone directory. For silly reasons, back at the time when automobiles had to turn in my front yard before continuing up along the narrow dirt track at Gamone, Bob and I often had disputes. Fortunately, we've now got onto the same wavelength, and we chat together for hours on end like old friends. Bob has told me at length about his ongoing conflict with a nasty guy named Stéphane who once considered himself as a would-be "young agricultural worker", with a right to purchase the land that Bob was acquiring. It so happened that I, too, had run up against this Stéphane fellow a few years ago, shortly before Bob appeared on the scene. He had the audacity to inform me that, since I was a middle-aged neo-ruralist with no intentions of using my ten acres of sloping pastures for agricultural purposes, then I should envisage the idea of inviting him to use my land. I told Stéphane promptly, in unequivocal terms, to fuck off, and I threatened this outrageous idiot in such an outspoken manner that he backed off... which resulted surprisingly in the situation of our finally becoming, not friends, but quiet-spoken mates. So, this fuckwit Stéphane turned his attention to attacking Bob, who had just decided to acquire a property at Gamone. These days, when Stéphane's legal advisors wish to annoy Bob, they would like to find a mailbox in which to deposit their futile complaints. But Bob has no mailbox.