The Shutter Question: To Close or Not To Close

Our house in the U.S., like so many, had fake shutters.  You know the kind, put on either side of a window as decoration, serving no useful purpose.  Here, in France, like everyone else, we have proper, real, working shutters on every window and door.  But we don't use them and our neighbors are quite baffled.  Oh, if we go away for more than a day we close them all, batten down the hatches, so to speak, as is proper.  Actually, whenever we leave I run next door and tell the older couple (he's 92, she 84) where we are going and for how long.  They appreciate the gesture….and it gives them current gossip for the rest of the folks.  Madame always asks me if I have closed all of my shutters…and Monsieur always reminds me to turn the furnace off.  What we don't do is close them all at night – ever.  Everyone else closes them every night, always.  Around sunset, 5:00pm in winter, 11:00 pm in summer, you hear the unlatching, cranking, grinding, slamming and fastening of shutters all over the neighborhood.  One can't let the evil night air in!  It makes a bit of sense in winter.  Most of these old houses are not equipped with central heating.  If it has been a sunny day the house warms up nicely and, by closing the shutters, you can retain a lot of that warmth.  But now it's summer and the same holds true.  After several days of warm weather the old stone house heats up like a brick oven.  The neighbors open all of the doors and windows all day to let in the fresh air.  I close the shutters to keep the sun out.  At night I throw everything wide open to let in the cool night air – and leave everything open all night.  They close up tight as a drum.  We both think the other is crazy…  Driving through most of southern Europe at night and one would think that either everyone has gone to the beach or there is an invasion imminent. 
Then morning comes and you hear the same sound in reverse: all of the shutters being unfastened, swung open and hitting the side of the house.  One knows when each house comes back to life – and who sleeps late on Sunday morning instead of going to early Mass..
What about security you ask?  We usually close the doors at night….don't want the dogs wandering outside and barking at the rabbits….don't want the critters coming inside looking for food.  We once had a bird fly in through the open bedroom door (on a terrace) in Andorra.  That was a bit disconcerting…. 

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