From beyond the château’s kitchen window I watch autumn leaves dance over the new terrace across the field. It’s pouring with rain, but still beautiful. I remember how sad this side of the maison de chasse looked when we first arrived on the estate. Abandoned, unloved and uncared for. We felt stifled by the close atmosphere and never really liked spending time there.
Still, over the years, whenever more pressing priorities allowed it, we worked on clearing this area. We got rid of the energetic dirt one step at the time. We cut undergrowth and carted rubble away. Coped with unexpected surprises – a wall that was at risk of collapsing because of construction errors, the rusty underground oil tank nobody told us about. Took down an ugly shelter that spoiled the facade of the house, stripped the old doors to reveal old paint or wood, and demolished concrete flooring to salvage flagstones.
BREATHING LIFE BACK
Next, after taking all these unfortunate layers away, we started bringing in new elements to add character. Old stone steps now connect this spot with the narrow road that runs above it and there’s water in an antique basin. A couple of months ago we added a cobble stone terrace with homemade wooden benches. The field has been plowed for wildflowers to flourish in summer and just this week, we planted dozens of purple lavender and verbena bonariensis for a naturalistic border to complement the terrace.
I find myself evaluating how much time and effort, frustration and anger it has cost us to breathe new life into this crumbling corner. The truth is that it has been extraordinarily rewarding. Throughout all the setbacks we never forgot what we really wanted to do: to explore magic and play with it. Perhaps the physical work and the hardship were in fact necessary to connect us to this part of the estate. Our love and attention are allowing the maison de chasse to transform its energy and reinvent itself completely. Magic!