Fairy Tale Mantel

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Why did it take us more than two years to sort out the fireplace in the living room?

If you had asked Thomas at the start of this project, he would have told you that Lescure’s main hearth was his priority. Sitting in front of a roaring fire after a day’s work was more important than say, the sewage system or running water. As Lescure’s resident dreamer, in charge of the fairy tale, I couldn’t but agree. But going into our first winter a major storm hit us and chaos ensued. We were dealing with leaking roofs, a flooded cellar and uprooted trees. We’d barely come up for air when we discovered we were under siege from capricorn beetles and other wood-destroying insects. In between these crises that we’ve since grown accustomed to as château life, we tried to get work done on the fireplace – sweeping the chimney, checking the flue for leaks, trying to find a professional to restore the marble mantel, and another to make the fireplace functional again. None of this went smoothly and at some point reality hit me. The overwhelming reality of our ignorance, of rules and regulations, of not being able to find knowledgeable and skilled artisans, and lastly, of my growing despair about this glitch in our fairy tale.

Then last winter, in an unexpected plot twist, the village plumber climbed up the hill and brought good tidings from a local newspaper: a new ‘fumiste’ was setting up shop in the region. So what if we only knew this word to mean charlatan in French argot, we tracked the man down and in came a father-and-son business who expertly and passionately took matters in hand. The mantel has been restored with clean strong lines adding architectural splendour to the living room. Lescure has been nodding its approval by breaking the softest of light through the windows. I should have known; even in fairy tales happy endings cannot be rushed.

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