Killer Trees

photo: killer trees, rue emile richard

This city version of the 'killer trees' gives an idea
of their country cousins.

Too Much Citron Pressé

Email from Jim Auman. Sent via the Internet: Monday, 20. August 2001:-

Bonjour Ric!

It seems that trees, considered for so long to be so beautiful are actually deadly killers. It's bad enough that people drive into them, but it may be that the trees actually stick their roots across the road causing havoc.

A la prochaine,
Jim Auman


'Killer Tree Debate Divides France'

Bonjour Jim -

Saturday, 25. August 2001:- I have carefully read the CNN report from 18. August that you included to explain your somewhat cryptic message.

For readers unfamiliar with the French countryside, many secondary and minor roads are lined with fairly big trees, usually plane trees. I suppose they were planted to give shade to slow-moving horse-and-carriage traffic, or to cut down winds, or make the roads easy to find if one got lost in a field or something.

When the trees were put in the roads were also narrow and the trees were placed close to them - mostly no more than a metre away from current road surfaces. They are usually about ten metres apart and their lower trunks are occasionally whitewashed.

According to the CNN-AP report a motorcyclist was killed in July by being hit by some trees in the Hautes-Pyrénées region, and local residents took revenge on 168 trees with chainsaws. This required the forestry people to knock them down completely so they wouldn't fall on other road users.

The transport ministry says trees caused 799 road deaths last year, which was ten percent of the years' total in France. Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany, who is in charge of trees, says he loves them but they will have to go. He was reported to say they can be planted elsewhere.

Tree defenders claim trees do not speed, drink wine or fall on traffic because they are tired.

Because I don't have a car, I asked Dimitri about the trees. He immediately thought of three famous people killed by running into them - including the inventor of the Deux-Chevaux, Pierre Boulanger - who did himself in with a speedy 'Traction' and not a Deux-Chevaux.

This is what Dimitri drives. He said it can go 85 kph on a good day, which is close to the 90 kph speed-limit on main secondary roads. Usually he drives somewhat slower and said that no trees had ever tried to hit him.

My memory of these, mostly well-paved roads, says that if I was cruising at 100 kph on one, I would be frequently overtaken. Even at 90 the trees presentposter: too full citron presse a wall of thick wood. If anything goes wrong there is no place to go.

The trees still provide shade, but if you get up to a certain speed the patches of light and shade can have a hypnotic stroboscopic effect - especially if you are a little tired from noonday wine, a long drive and if it is warm - or all three.

The beginning of a citron pressé experiment. See next email.

But I think the proper answer is not to remove the trees - why not just blacktop all of France? What France really needs is to have no cars faster than an open-top Deux-Chevaux, so that everybody can feel, smell, and see the place in peace.

Note:- The opening photo of the street with the plane trees was taken in Paris - because the Rue Emile Richard is only five minutes' walk from where I live. Unlike country roads this city street with no house numbers has curbs and sidewalks, plus anti-parking devices on the street's left side. The trees are set a bit further back from the roadway and they are probably slightly further apart than on a typical country road. Otherwise, they are about right.


Citron Pressé Problem

Email from Christina Witsberger. Sent via the Internet: Monday, 20. August 2001:-

Hi, Ric

I have a 'question of the week' regarding citron pressé which a Café Metropole Club member ordered at a club meeting and you reported upon.

I have this sometimes in Paris during the afternoon because I don't like carbonated soda pop much and want something more than water. However, I am ashamed to admit - I have no idea how to drink this concoction!

And I've been in Paris so many times I figure I ought to know by now, but I don't, so maybe you can expound on how the heck this drink is supposed to work.

Every time I've order one, all I get is a glass with very strong lemon juice, a little side pitcher of water, and of course someposter: take out the glacons sugar packets. However, the lemon juice fills up the glass it is in almost to the top, so you cannot dilute it very much - not to the point where it tastes close to lemonade, at least to my taste.

Notice level of lemon juice after ice cubes are removed.

What I do is fill up the inch or so with water at the top and gradually keep putting in more water as I drink it. However, a large portion of this drink is thus much much stronger than I would ideally prefer, and then at the bottom it gets much weaker. There seems no other way to do this as they don't ever give me an empty pitcher or extra empty glass where I could mix is to my taste.

Anyway, if you have time to answer, I'd really like to know as I've always wondered. I still order it sometimes but there is probably only a small portion right in the middle of the event when it really tastes the way I would like it to.

Would it be okay to ask the waiter for an extra empty glass or is this too stupid and un-French for words? How do French people drink this? Am I doing something wrong?

Amicalement,
Christina


How To - Citron Pressé

Bonjour Christina -

Saturday, 25. August 2001:- I have recently had several citron pressés without noticing this problem. In the interests of scientific research and furthering understanding between peoples, I ordered one during last Thursday's club meeting.

You are right! It came with far too much concentrated lemon juice in it and too little room left in the glass to dilute it to the taste of lemonade - and I only got one measly packet of sugar!

But I am only the club secretary even when I'm doing scientific experiments. A club member present cleverly suggested the glass was overfull because of its ice cubes, adding cryptically, "All foreigners get ice cubes."

Since the citron pressé's glass was meantposter: what to do with glacons to be extra cold, it had a small dish under it to prevent puddles. I fished out the ice cubes and put them in this dish. Then I was able to top up the glass with lots more cold water from the pitcher.

The result was a very tart lemonade, partly because one packet of sugar wasn't quite enough. It would have been easy enough to get another, but we don't want to overdo sugar, do we?

Let excess ice cubes melt before giving them to your dog - assuming your dog likes ice cubes.

I don't think you should try asking the waiter for a spare glass. He will think you are trying to get a 'freebie' citron pressé for a friend or relative by stretching one citron pressé into two.

After the club meeting I mentioned the matter to Patrick, one of the club's 'Waiters of the Week.' He said they squeeze all the lemons they think the café will need in the morning, and keep the concentrate in a bottle in a cooler so it is quick to serve.

He said they were often a bit careless with how much they put in glasses. Nobody is perfect. If it concerns beer, you are lucky if you ever get a full 'demi.'

As for the excess ice cubes - after they've melted you can give them to your dog, if you remembered to bring it along.

In the second café where I tried to road-test a citron pressé they said they didn't have any - when it was exactly what I wanted.
signature, regards, ric

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