As we’re now well and truly into spring, we’ve had weeks and weeks of alternating rain and bright sunshine. And once again, that means we’re into the season of mowing on a grand scale — known in France as fauchage.
During the winter, there’s no sign of fauchage in the Greater Daglan Area, simply because the plant life has generally died back. But in April and certainly in May, plants explode into green life — flowers, shrubs, grass and weeds.
And while much of it is is attractive, the high flowers and grasses alongside our roads can be not only messy-looking but even a bit dangerous — for instance, blocking the view of drivers who must be on the lookout for cyclists.
I’ve written about the practice of fauchage several times — as long ago as October 11, 2010, in the posting “Shave and a fauchage, two bits” — but if you’re new to the GDA, it’s worth a review. Here’s some of what I wrote in that 2010 posting:
On bigger roads, fauchage is usually conducted by a convoy of two, three or even four vehicles. This can include one or two trucks with flashing lights and large signs that read “Danger — Fauchage,” on either side of the … fauchage tractor. The actual trimming is done by rotating blades that can be positioned in any number of ways, to cut grass whether it’s on the flat or on a slope, and to trim shrubs and tree branches that might impair a driver’s vision.
Here’s one of the warning vehicles, as seen through the windshield of my car one recent day as my wife Jan and I drove down into the Céou River valley, on the way into our village:
And here’s the fauchage tractor itself, with the whirling blades being tilted upwards:
And here’s the same machine, trimming shrubs and grasses on the side of a hill:
What amazes me is the skill of the drivers, who smoothly re-position their blades as they drive along, trimming the grass and weeds while managing to avoid rock outcroppings and tree trunks and other hazards. And one more thing: I love the smell of fresh-cut grass as we drive along our country roads.