Chancre Colore (Friday Fictioneers, July 2013)

copyright anelephantcant

I looked at the photo prompt and just saw ‘plane tree’.  I make no apologies for not being inspired by the bike! 🙂 

Apologies to all who may not have been able to find my comments last week.  The problem is, I believe, sorted.  😉

Her dilapidated lock-side cottage had been shock enough, but the cracked bare banks of the Midi stunned me into silence.

Gone were the colonnades of plane trees, dappling the banks with their restless leafy cover.  Now ugly steel pilings stood where once gnarled, knotted roots had supported the canal as it wound towards the sea.

“Chancre coloré” said grandmère, “wiped them out from here to Carcassonne.”

In the distance workmen toiled under the blazing  sun, leaving a trail of puny upright saplings.

“A new strain; they say it’s resistant.”

“Ugly though,” I said.

Grandmère grinned toothlessly.

“Not everything that is young is beautiful, ma chère.  Some things take time.”

It’s estimated that 42,000 plane trees lining the Midi will be destroyed by this fungal disease which originally entered Europe from munitions boxes unloaded at Marseille during the second world war. 

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to Chancre Colore (Friday Fictioneers, July 2013)

  1. Dear Sandra,

    And not everything that’s beautiful is young. Well crafted story. Never apologize for not being inspired by the most prominent thing in a prompt. I applaud your creativity and imagination. Good one.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  2. Kwadwo says:

    There is, indeed, a time for everything.

    Like

  3. That’s a beautiful last line. It will stay with me for a long time, I think. 🙂

    Like

  4. rckjones says:

    Simply haunting, and very true. Reminds me a bit of Tolkien: “The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by frost.”

    Like

  5. misskzebra says:

    I do love plane trees, but beech are my favourite.

    Like

  6. Joyce says:

    I love the look and history of old trees. With age comes beauty. 🙂 The original is always more appreciated than the substitute or copy.

    Like

  7. Joe Owens says:

    I hat to see large trees destroyed either by progress or disease. It takes so long for some trees to mature and the face that we consciously destroy otherwise healthy trees seems so wasteful.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I know what you mean. When we moved to our present house we had a row of eucalyptus trees spaced less than three feet apart. We’ve had experience of them in South Africa and in the UK so they had to go, but it was very upsetting at the time.

      Like

  8. trees suffer from society
    beauty takes time – doesn’t it? thanks for the reminder

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  9. Interesting take on it. Seeing just the tree and the blight of urban sprawl. Love it!

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  10. Linda Vernon says:

    An inspired metaphor! I love that you put in the French. I could really picture the setting (and almost hear the accordions!). 😀

    Like

  11. paulmclem says:

    Ah bon. Vous parlez Franglais! Tres good.

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  12. kz says:

    a beautiful lesson in this story. i really love the last line..

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  13. A wonderful lesson for us all to keep in mind.

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  14. How sad about the trees! I hate the demise of trees whether through disease or “progress”. And as someone who is taking time, I appreciate your last line. 🙂

    janet

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  15. claireful says:

    A lovely moral to this story, very tenderly told.

    Like

  16. Hi Sandra,
    Really good story, in so many ways. How the loss of beautiful trees saddens us. But you give us hope for the future. The wisdom of the old woman is another fine element. Impressed that you can recognize a plane tree from its bark. We don’t have plane trees here, but we do have its relative, the sycamore, and tall sycamores grow just down the hill from where we live. Thanks for the botanical lesson. Ron

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Ron. Just as a matter of interest, the wooden boxes that brought the disease into Marseille during WW2 contained munitions from USA. But the cultivar that has proved to be resistant to chancre colore also comes from the States. 🙂 How’s that for coincidence?

      Like

  17. Gabriella says:

    Being in France too I have heard about this problem. You have used it in a very subtle manner; well-done!

    Like

  18. vbholmes says:

    Sad to read the plight of the plane trees, but glad there is a new cultivar that is disease resistant. Good story, Sandra.

    Like

  19. Penny L Howe says:

    Sandra I really enjoyed this piece. Tree’s have a special place in my heart. So to me, your story was wonderful. And the information you shared afterwards, sadly true. Penny

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Penny, glad you enjoyed it. I share your love of trees – if my husband didn’t restrain me I’d have more than just the apple tree I’m allowed in our garden. 🙂

      Like

  20. petrujviljoen says:

    Topical story. Loved it. Enjoy being informed. In RSA we have tiny ants that destroy trees. They’re resistant to chemicals.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Are they the so called ‘crazy ants’? If so I believe that they are resistant to the pesticides for fire ants. Good basis for a story there… Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  21. I hope you don’t get tired of hearing this, darling, but that last line is pure gold.

    Like

  22. neenslewy says:

    I liked the lesson in this one – and it is so true – beauty can take time to appear. A flash packed with information!

    Like

  23. hmv says:

    This piece really speaks to me; as a person who has wasted so much time in the past, the message is very uplifting! Your words are an inspiration 🙂

    Like

  24. I do like it. Grandmere is very wise!

    Like

  25. elmowrites says:

    Great story, Sandra, especially the last line. and an interesting history lesson too. thank you. All the elms around us are dying from a disease and in the UK they are facing Ash die-Back. It’s a sad time for trees.

    Like

  26. Kent says:

    Ah, sweet story, yes!

    Here in Kansas, we lost some maple trees due to the drought of last year. They’re trying like crazy to remove them. Sad. 😦

    Like

  27. Very original and timely take on the photo. I liked it!

    Like

  28. “And not everything that’s beautiful is young” Interesting and contrarian thought all right and comforting to a geezer like me. Thanks, Sandra!.

    Like

  29. troy P. says:

    I’m on board with so many others regarding the last line – a good bit of wisdom to hang onto. =)

    Like

  30. denmother says:

    Hopefully these new saplings are the “ugly ducklings” of the tree world!

    Like

  31. yarnspinnerr says:

    loved the story and the information.
    More than a hundred thousand trees were recently cut in my birth place (Lucknow, India) for building meaningless memorials.

    Like

  32. annisik51 says:

    “Youth is wasted on the young.” Oscar Wilde? I like your old crone-type and her old crone wisdom. And of course, it’s a real tragedy. I care enough about trees to be a member of the Woodland Trust and the latest tree disease here is heartbreaking.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      George Bernard Shaw, I think. But they had similar observational styles, I always thought. Good for you, supporting Woodland Trust. I must look that organisation up. Is there anything sadder than a sick tree?

      Like

  33. unspywriter says:

    Loved the grandmother’s line. We seldom know what we’ll reap when we sow the seeds of war. A lovely story with a deeper message.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/band-of-brothers/

    Like

  34. Interesting little French Tale. I never heard of a Plane Tree until I moved to Bath. They are huge and startlingly old. The one in front of our house is way over 200 years. It would be horrible if anything happened to it…

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      They’ve just planted a long line of plane trees on the street where I live. I’m not sure they realised how big they grow… Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

  35. JackieP says:

    Very nicely done as usual. I have heard of Plane trees but have never seen one except in pictures. Beautiful trees as most are. I love the Willow myself. So mysterious. Sad about the Plane trees though. Even after so many years past the war, the devastation lingers.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      It’s been very sad watching the disease take hold. And then we return to a place to find it bereft of shade, the banks now reinforced by man and not by nature. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  36. steph says:

    Sandra, I’ve missed reading your work. It’s been awhile (Trifecta). Decided to branch out a bit and try Friday Fictioneers. Glad I did. This is great. I love that last line. Just perfect.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Steph, good to see you over here. Yes I’ve not done Trifecta for a while. Don’t quite know why. Maybe too time-consuming, now that Friday Fictioneers, where I’ve contributed for a couple of years or more is regularly pulling in 80+ submissions each week. Thanks for commenting. See you next time hopefully.

      Like

  37. marymtf says:

    The older I get, the more I can relate to that grandma.

    Like

  38. Very nice unique take on the prompt, and so true that youth does not equal beauty.

    Like

  39. Erinleary says:

    I loved this one. Great wisdom in her words.

    Like

  40. elappleby says:

    Hi Sandra
    Wonderful last line and I loved Grandmere’s toothless grin. I love your lateral thinking.

    Like

  41. What a great piece Sandra. The end rings so much true… Here in Stockholm they have to remove all the old elm trees because of a similar disease.. and indeed it takes years upon years to reaplace

    Like

  42. Great work. I liked the tribute too. Who knows what will speak to us in a photo? That’s what is so fun about reading these – seeing other people’s take on the photo. Well, and admiring their skill.

    Like

  43. AnElephant also adores trees.
    And your story.
    Superb!

    Like

  44. Alastair says:

    Loved this post.

    Also wanted to say, I am using your old image that was in April again, I am linking it to you again as owner of the image

    Like

  45. Your closing line is absolutely beautiful. Well done, Sandra!

    Like

  46. Dee says:

    I loved this one Sandra, one of your best I think – the last line is brilliant.
    Sorry this comment is so late – I have had huge problems trying to post any comments over the weekend.
    Dee

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Dee, sorry about your problems. My situation is resolved now, thank goodness. You could raise your issue on the WordPress support forums and someone might be able to help.

      Like

  47. rgayer55 says:

    Over the past few years, we’ve had a problem with borers wiping out our red oak trees. Thankfully, they don’t attack white oak or post oak, but still they’ve had a devastating effect on the acorn crop that so much of our wildlife depends upon to make it through the winter.

    Like

  48. Shreyank says:

    a great story, well inter twined with reality.. my fav kinda stories 🙂

    Like

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