Canada is mostly empty – as you can clearly see from the air. We must have flown for three hours across the northern part of the country without seeing a single house…and barely a single road. Finally, the pilot pointed out the town of Churchill on the banks of Hudson Bay. Looking down, we were barely able to see a town at all. It looked more like a village – cut off from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of wilderness. Then, heading out across Hudson Bay, the blue sea was soon dotted by thousands of tiny white spots – an ice flow. It was like looking at the sky at night, with a vast expanse of stars that seemed to go on forever. Flying at about 600 mph, it nevertheless took about an hour before we had left the ice flow behind us. Pity the book mariner who got stuck in one!
*** August is approaching. The Bonner family has picked up the French habit of taking the month off – gathering at our house in remote Poitou. Now, the tribe is trickling in. Gone are the days when the family all drove down from Paris together. Now, each comes from his own place…bringing his own baggage.
Yesterday, Maria came from London, with her friend, Sophie, a French actress. Damien, our gardener and “homme a tout faire” went to pick them up at the airport in Limoges. He was impressed by the two actresses:
“Oh la la…it was a pleasure driving them down. I only wish my friends had seen me…”
The two girls are used to the fast life of London…with late nights (“I haven’t been to bed before 4am in weeks,” says Maria…)…chic parties…and endless chatter. But this is not London, nor Paris…nor even St. Louis.
Dad had to lay down the law…
“If you are going to sunbathe topless, make sure you do it where no one can see you. This is not the Cote d’Azur. This is the countryside. La France profonde. People are very conservative. Damien has high blood pressure already. And you know how hard it is to find a good gardener….
“And another thing…make sure you get to bed at a reasonable hour. We have a lot of shutters to paint…”
Tonight, Henry comes home after spending nearly a month working in Ireland…and Edward returns after three weeks at a wilderness camp in Scotland… Stay tuned…
*** Speaking of shutters. We described James Kunstler’s critique of the suburbs – “cartoon” houses, he said. They have porches that only look like porches from a distance. When you get up close you find that they are only 17 inches wide…so you can’t sit on them. And the shutters are phony too – they’re nailed to the wall, so you can’t open or close them.
It’s a shame. Real shutters are a marvelous addition to a house. Our guess is that are about to make a comeback. First, real shutters look good. We’ve seen a normal, American ranch house, in Texas…nothing special, like millions of them built in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s…onto which the owners had put real shutters, hung at the top, swinging out from the bottom, like shutters in Jamaica. The effect was dramatic. The colorful shutters made the whole place look charming, on the outside. On the inside, the effect was even more delightful. The shutters blocked the sun and glare, greatly reducing the need for air- conditioning. Shutters protect windows…and keep curtains from fading. In winter, they help reduce heat loss from the glass. In summer, they prevent heat build-up from the sun. And year-round, they make the house safer; just pull the shutters closed and lock them.
But most important, shutters give your children something to do when they come for a holiday.
for The Daily Reckoning Australia