A Different Kind of Vegetarian

Posted on February 24th, 2012 by

The French hate trees.  They hate trees in the same way Americans hate cows.  In the US, we think feeding cows their natural food source is for weird people.  Since we have so much corn that we use it to drive cars whether or not it makes sense, we started feeding it to cows.  Sometimes, we even feed cows other cows, but don’t worry, to see how things are going inside, we have scientists that cut holes into the cows to check on their digestion process.  If you read my food post and wondered what the alternative to grass-fed beef is, now you know.

Unlike Americans, the French treat cows very well.  However, in France, they think this is a good idea:

I think these are trees...

You think this tree has a disease, right?  Like Polio, perhaps.  In fact, this is not a disease (unless French people are the pathogen).  This is done on purpose.

I don’t know if there were just a lot of sharp blades left over after the revolution, or if perhaps it was on purpose because they thought the trees were in league with the monarchy.  In any case, somehow, at some time, it became quite popular to cut up your plants in France.  Sometimes it looks quite nice too, as with this French style garden:

Not bad, right?

Here, they love heavily shaped and sculpted gardens.  I appreciate them too.  French gardens are a unification of the organic beauty of plants, and the mathematical precision of geometry.  This precision matches quite nicely that of the architecture such gardens often surrounded.

This is all good and beautiful for flowers and shrubs.  However, the difference between shaping these smaller plants and shaping trees is the difference between a haircut and an amputation.  Terrifyingly, such amputation is normal in France.  When you ask people about it, they sometimes get a confused look, as if wondering how else trees ought to look.  They can’t be allowed to grow too big in cities, and so it only makes sense to cut them in such a fashion. . . doesn’t it.  Of course things happen gradually, and I have to admit that they start out looking relatively nice:

Trimming them requires a relatively intense operation.

Here they are, not quite so gnarled looking.

You might even convince me they look nice at this point—if they’re outside a winery where there’s wine tasting, and we do that for a good long time first.  But, as the tree heals and is cut in the same place over many repetitive cycles, its healing pattern changes the tree from being shaped like a tree to being shaped precisely not like a tree.  Where limbs once powerfully gestured toward the sky, now are left large bulbs that are nothing like the Christmas sort.

This is what happens...

After that, the tree enters what I like to call the hairy stage.

From a distance, I often wonder why the trees are fuzzy. Then I understand.

At this point, the tree is so misshapen by a chronic case of French people, that when it does manage to sneak in some branches, they are in complete disproportion with the lumpy body.  Here are the slender offshoots coming out of a tree hidden in some other plant because it’s embarrassed:

It's hidden, but under there is a mutilated tree.

I knew how bad it was when I noticed that most people I know look more like trees than these trees.  Not only do they look like something from the wrong day of creation, but I can’t imagine how this is good for them.  Aside from the aesthetics of proportion, branches are incredibly good at holding leaves and trunks together so that photosynthesis can happen.  Does this evade the French?  Perhaps a dog from Nantes ate the chapter about photosynthesis in all the French science textbooks.  Or perhaps it wasn’t printed in the first place, because there were too few healthy trees to make the paper.  In any case, I refuse to believe these desecrated trees are in any state with a boarder near good health.  When people see this type of abuse with animals, they become vegetarians.  I don’t know what to become when it’s with trees.

Is it even still a tree?


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