Actually the only work I have done of late has been to dig a little in the garden, preparing for winter. I did not take my geraniums up until last week. As for the dahlias I wrote you about, they became almost a scandal in the commune. They grew and grew, like Jack’s beanstalk— prodigiously. I can’t think of any other word to express it. They were eight feet high and full of flowers, which we cut for the Jour des Morts. I know you won’t believe that, but it is true. A few days later there came a wind-storm, and when it was over, in spite of the heavy poles I put in to hold them up, they were laid as flat as though the German cavalry had passed over them. I was heart-broken, but Pere only shrugged his shoulders and remarked: “If one will live on the top of a hill facing the north what can one expect?” And I had no reply to make. Fortunately the wind can’t blow my panorama away, though at present I don’t often look out at it. I content myself by playing in the garden on the south side, and, if I go out at all, it is to walk through the orchards and look over the valley of the Morin, towards the south.
My, but I’m cold—too cold to tell you about. The ends of my fingers hurt the keys of my machine.
November 28, 1914
I am sorry that, as you say in your letter of October 16, just received, you are disappointed that I “do not write you more about the war.” Dear child, I am not seeing any of it. We are settled down here to a life that is nearly normal—much more normal than I dreamed could be possible forty miles from the front. We are still in the zone of military operations, and probably shall be until spring, at least. Our communications with the outside world are frequently cut. We get our mail with great irregularity. Even our local mail goes to Meaux, and is held there five days, as the simplest way of exercising the censorship. It takes nearly ten days to get an answer to a letter to Paris.
All that I see which actually reminds me of the war—now that we are used to the absence of the men—I see on the route nationale, when I drive down to Couilly. Across the fields it is a short and pretty walk. Amelie makes it in twenty minutes. I could, if it were not for climbing that terrible hill to get back.
Besides, the mud is inches deep. I have a queer little four-wheeled cart, covered, if I want to unroll the curtains. I call it my perambulator, and really, with Ninette hitched in, I am like an overgrown baby in its baby carriage, and any nurse I ever knew would push a perambulator faster than that donkey drags mine. Yet it just suits my mood. I sit comfortably in it, and travel slowly—time being non-existent—so slowly that I can watch the wheat sprout, and gaze at the birds and the view and the clouds. I do hold on to the reins—just for looks—though I have no need to, and I doubt if Ninette suspects me of doing anything so