Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tigglarizing France

When I first arrived in Grenoble last week, I met Albert, a scraggly potted Christmas tree not unlike Charlie Brown's pitiful branch. Sarah and Laura had bought him at the Christmas market before leaving on break and planned yet to plant him in one of the public parks before life in captivity finally killed him off, but as of Epiphany he still sat fully decorated in the entryway to the apartment.

Sometime last week, Sarah arrived home carrying a shovel, but I still didn't quite imagine her lunacy to be complete until this morning, when she woke me with plans to go release Albert into the Parc Paul Mistral. Still groggy, I nodded along until visions of angry gendarmes demanding an explanation for our defacement of public property danced into my head. The French love their parks and have a tendency to manicure them, setting strict leash laws and banning pedestrians from their lawns in a crazed beauty-protection program, and I felt fairly confident that renegade tree-installation would not be well received. Still, Sarah was going, and I felt I couldn't let her get arrested while she loaded Albert onto her bike seat, I picked up the shovel and a bottle of water and trudged along after.

After a brief site-location debate and a lot of laughter at the unwieldiness of the shovel, a hole was dug, the tree was freed, and we were nearly ready to make our escape once again. Suddenly, a voice came around the corner and a scolding little old lady appeared, ready to voice her complaint: "You've planted it too close to the other trees! It can't grow with no light!" Leave it to the French to overlook the completely ridiculous and likely illegal nature of our act to criticize the style in which we committed it. Then again, as we fled, it occurred to me that I need saner I was laughing over the sheer ridiculousness of it all, Sarah looked at me and said, "But we saved a life!"

Yes Sarah, and Albert is now safe and sheltered illegally in the Parc Paul Mistral. Just don't count on me next Christmas.

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