The sirens from the trucks cut through the dimday but no one would have presupposed their destination. Families continued to stir their supper pots and cut their fresh baked bakery baguette with quiet innocence. In the usual Monday afternoon doldrums, a few citizens of town may have strolled along Principale and come to the realization, it was La Vieille Alliance that was in flames...again!
My phone started to ring at quarter to six at which point I had yet to be au courant with the ill-fated news. In my after work languor, I collected my failing energy to answer the call.
"La Vieille Alliance is in flames...again."
I felt my heart slump. The news was implausible. There was only so much adversity one could face in a lifetime, I thought to myself. In the spring of 2005, the bakery encountered misfortune as one of several shops who fell victim to arson. With resolution and patronage, the owners set up their storefront in an old heritage building known to locals as Danny's Bar-B-Q, during the late fall of 2005.
And now this...
I wrote a review of their second endeavor back in January 2006. It wasn't until April 20, 2007, ten days before the ruin of flames and water damage, I received an e-mail from owners Frances and Bruno who had come across my piece. In my detection of her accent alone, I, a former languages major and college drop-out decided Frances was Irish. To my pleasure she corrected my delusion and provided me with a bit of background information.
"...I’m only half-Irish and really consider myself Scottish...La Vieille Alliance is the name of an agreement between France and Scotland that dates from the ‘year of our Lord 1295’ and we chose the name to represent our origins..."
On the night of April 30, I sat at my computer unable to work. My head felt heavy from the days events. I resolved to write to our local paper and advance an excerpt to Frances and Bruno.
"The Auld Alliance is a story of reoccurring defeat as much as it holds onto a history of perseverance. Like the Scottish and French before them, La Vieille Alliance, the bakery, as it is so named, took one romantic notion merging two separate entities to withstand adversity. In the cusp of a quaint-town, their sweet determination, detectable in their Chantilly chouxs and lemon tartelettes left patrons enchanted. If there is some semblance to the small town of which I speak, I implore us all to do what we can in restoring faith in the hearts that have lost once again on this night."
I never took chances. I was a person who let life pass me by for way too many years. Now I am older and maybe wiser. While there is a certain comfort in watching the world progress in routine silence, pursuing risks can be much more gratifying. I am reassured of this more than ever when I hear back from Frances the day after the fire,
“…We will start again and you will have another chance to sample our wonderful cakes, bread, cheeses etc…We just need to get everything out, get it cleaned and find a new place. Hoping to meet you properly there.”