Extravagance? Maybe not.

At the entrance of the community where I live, there are three signs stating that the people here are dedicated to beauty and a healthy way of living: one mentions sport activities, another indicates that flowers are omnipresent and the third one specifies that pesticides are no longer welcome here. This happens when you have satisfied most of your needs and you have time now for esthetic and ethical issues. To put is simple, at a certain level and after some time, it’s all about luxury.

“Ville Fleurie” is probably the oldest sign; I know it for about 10 years. There is a competition between many communities across France: what town or village has the most beautiful flower designs and… the most houses with flowers. As far as I know, the maximum possible is 5 flowers. We’ve got here 3 flowers, but judging by the tons of flowers I see every day, it is hard to imagine how a 5-flowers community really looks like… but apparently, it does exist. It’s an explosion of colors everywhere and there are species I never saw before. It looks like it’s a full-time job for each family to maintain a garden full of flowers, or at least have some flowers hanging at the windows. I suspect there must be something linked to some sort of pride as well…

“Commune Nature” is something quite recent; there are regulations regarding the poisons you can discard in your yard, poisons that can get into the ground and further in the water stratum beneath. We’ve got 3 dragon-flies in our community. I have no idea what is the maximum, but all I can say is that I’m living in some kind of a freaking zoo, where there are a lot of insects and animals feeding or preying on each other, starting with the omnipresent stork (the symbol-bird of Alsace) and ending with the lizards you can walk on during the day and the hedgehogs you can mistakenly walk on during the evening. There is an ongoing noise of creatures fighting and eating each other, day and night, but fortunately I either work or sleep, not having the time to contemplate them too much…

“Ville Sportive” is the third sign and its meaning is quite obvious. For a small community (a bit more than 4000 souls), there is a public swimming pool, a football club, sport facilities and bike trails everywhere. Some of my colleagues, even physicians, prefer to come to work by bike (during the warm season, but not limited to it), even from a couple of kilometers away. It’s about moving and being “green” or eco-friendly by own actions, not only by intentions and declarations.

This is my world now, at the crossroad of France, Germany and Switzerland. The civilized world that appears to have solved its problems related to money, health, education, transportation, etc., and has moved to the next level. And it has done this many years ago. Even if the internet allows us to travel “virtually” everywhere, through photos and videos, living here has a different… quality. It’s not only fashionable to be “green”, it’s not only about vanity to surround yourself with flowers, and it’s not only about sport made for the sake of looking good. There is also authenticity in everyday living.

And I like this.

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