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All’s Well That Ends Well

When I first discovered we had a well in the garden, I imagined pulling out fresh water from a bucket each morning, like a character in a fairy tale. Fresh water from your very own garden, just imagine! My enthusiasm was further fuelled after a conversation with our neighbour Dede, who told us he used to drink the water from our well when he was a child, and it was the best he’d ever tasted. It sounded like a dream come true, but why had the well been filled in?

Other neighbours told us their well was now empty as the seam was dry. How negative I thought. We asked the notaire for the number for a puisatier to find out whether we could bring our well back to life.

The puisatier told us that before he started work we would need to bring in a diviner to tell us whether there was water in the well. He gave us the number for one who had an excellent reputation locally. He duly arrived with his dousing rods a week later, and walked the land. Yes, there was water in the well, fifteen metres down and it was of good quality.

A month later, the well excavation started.   Father and son began by digging into the top of the well with a spade. One day I heard a piercing scream. Rushing out to the front of the house, I imagined the worst. This was worse than the worst – snakes – about twelve hibernating snakes had been disturbed, and the young man had leapt several feet into the air from a standing position.

My terrier wasn't terrified of the snakes!

Undeterred, the work continued. The puisatier worked à l’ancienne, which involved his son being lowered into the well by a pulley system on a rickety swing. My heart was in my mouth as I watched him going into the narrow well, bringing up large pieces of hardcore with his bare hands. The afternoons were even more terrifying, as I glimpsed the empty bottles of wine lying next to the makeshift barbeque on our lawn. My terrier thought all his Christmases had come at once, as he gnawed on the discarded bones.

The well clearing continued for two weeks. We then added an ingenious system to redirect the rain run off from the roof into the well to use for watering the garden, a project that has stubbornly remained down the priorities list but it did put the claggers on drinking the well water.

But all’s well, we are filling the neighbour’s wells.