I’m usually pretty calm about the vagaries of the weather; like being stuck in a traffic jam there’s nothing you can do about it and getting hot and bothered and thumping the steering wheel only gets you a sore hand and no further on (I freely admit to swearing at other motorists but that’s different).
This year’s been different though, for the first time since we’ve been in France I’ve been getting depressed over the sheer unrelenting greyness of it all. One of the things we’ve always been able to rely on is that though the weather can be pretty extreme here, torrential rain, extreme cold or heat, sudden fierce gales, after a day or two or a week the skies clear, everything is a brilliant blue and even when the actual temperature is zero you can feel warmth on your face from the sun.
Not for the last three months. It’s rained and rained and rained, sometimes torrentially, sometimes lightly, sometimes as smirr – that mist which isn’t quite wet enough to be called rain but still leaves your hair soaking, and even when it hasn’t rained the skies have usually been lowering and overcast. The ground is completely sodden, it quakes like a bog when you walk on it and we can’t go on most of the usual dog walks because going up hills is a no no as the ground is too slippery. The compost bucket under the sink remains unemptied for days as I’m not prepared to wreck my shoes by letting them sink half way into the ground as I cross the lawn to the composter and my boots are always at the other end of the house when I think of it. Worrying about mud on the floors or mud smears on the long windows where dogs and cats scratch with filthy feet to indicate they want to come is the path to a nervous breakdown – though to be honest as I don’t eat off the floor a bit of mud has never worried me.
Three days ago the sun came out, and yes it rained a bit the next day but the sun came back. The ground still squeaks when you walk on it but I don’t have to wear a coat or a scarf or rainwear when I take the dogs out, they say that the smells have suddenly got really interesting now they aren’t been rained away continuously.And the grues – cranes – have started flying back to northern Europe from their winter grounds in Spain. We’re on one of the main flight paths here and no matter how many flights have gone over the sound of the distant honking as they communicate with each other always pulls us out into the garden to squint up at the sky to see where there’s a V shaped line of birds flying steadily towards Germany. There’s something about their cries which lifts the spirits immediately, in the autumn it’s a sign that the seasons are rightly changing, now, especially after the last two dismal months, it’s a harbinger of better things to come. We hope.
I was at the market yesterday when a huge flight, hundred of birds, went right over Cadillac. All around the market, Frenchmen and women, of the type who normally only look at a bird to work out how to cook it, were looking upwards with huge smiles on their faces.Yup, there’s something about grues.