And for once, I'm not talking about apples.
Several weeks ago our 86 year old neighbour Mme B. had a spell in hospital. While she was there her son took his opportunity to clear out her barn. One day an enormous skip arrived on a truck and was dumped in the middle of the street, blocking the way for the entire day. Guy had also called the pest controllers to come and deal with a severe outbreak of fleas in the barn and over the course of the day, Tyvek overalled figures beavered away, spraying, clearing and chucking. My friend Sylvie and I watched from her top window and debated whether we would go down and ask Guy if we could have a couple of the chairs and a wooden chest, but we decided that in view of the possibility they would be infested, we would pass.
Two skips worth of stuff was carted off, and a few days later we discovered Guy at the brocante, with a stall featuring the best of the barn's contents. He told us there was a quantity of firewood still in the barn and asked if we wanted it. We said we would and arranged to come and collect it yesterday.
The wood is oak, about 15 years old. It is at least that long since Mme B. switched to heating the house with oil. It's cut into 30 cm lengths and will easily fit into our stove. Guy needed it removed because it was stacked up in such a way it was preventing access to the upper floor of the barn, and we had to be really careful when loading our trailer, because the old wooden ladder which lead to the trapdoor was in constant danger of falling on our heads. The wood was also stacked in a window alcove and on top of the well. Now it's gone he can order another skip and ditch the contents of the upstairs.
We figure there is at least 2 cubic metres of wood, which at today's prices is worth €80+. Guy resprayed all the wood with malathion (or something of that ilk - it really stank!) so he could be sure it was 'propre', then helped us load it into our trailer, even though he was due to compete in a trompes de chasse competition that afternoon. Neither he nor his mother would accept any money for the wood.
His mother is (inevitably) complaining that he threw out things that she now wants, but as he said, it was an absolute bazaar in there, and desperately needed sorting. It was tremendously kind of them to think of us and very generous of them to give us the wood. I will be buying them a nice bottle of Chinon at the very least.
We've left the wood airing on the back lawn overnight, and today, we are going to tell our visitors that the task is to stack it all neatly in the garage and down one side of the apéro terrace (gloves will be provided).
...Well, visitors have to earn their pear sorbet somehow...