Summer’s End or Not??

P7730197It’s that time of year that always seems to be a bit of a muddle as far seasons are concerned. If you stick to the astronomical calendar then it is still summer for another couple of weeks. If you listen to the gardeners and follow the meteorological system then we have moved into Autumn.

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So much of the French year is defined by annual events. Summer is all about holidays and Monday was la rentrée. The unofficial start of autumn in the French calendar. Back to school and back to work. Small shops, boulangeries and cafés, those that do not depend on the summer tourist trade, and who closed for the entire month of August are dusting off the cobwebs and opening their doors. Business is back to normal, offices have reopened and one can get things done once more.

Friends are re-aquainted at the school gate, its a time to stand and talk a little longer, it is as if normal life has resumed.

And although I personally hate it when the children go back to school because I feel a certain emptiness inside and the house is suddenly so much quieter, it is a time when I tend to make new plans and set myself new goals. It is almost impossible to start anything afresh in the summer, but now, just as the children have moved up into new classes and are set for a new round of learning so I too find myself looking towards the future. All will be revealed in the fullness of time, but there will be exciting changes ahead.

And there’s another thing so typically French about la rentrée, ‘what to wear’, at least this is certainly the case in the Charente Maritime. The kids are back in school, everyone is back at work, therefore one should move into autumnal clothing. Gone are the frivolous dresses and shorts of the summer, the pretty tops and bare legs, suddenly everyone is dressing as if it were cold. Never mind that the temperatures are still suited to sunbathing rather than snuggling around a fire, those still showing a healthy amount of suntanned legs and bare arms are now most certainly classified as tourists. I suppose it does depend on where one is in France, but here, it is still wonderfully warm and I haven’t put away my shorts or the outdoor furniture just yet. But as a nod towards the society we live in, or perhaps because I felt the need to be french, I did wear jeans and a crisp shirt when I was in Rochefort yesterday!

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All around the grass is still tinderbox dry, grazing pasture is scarce as so many dry hot months have taken their toll. Water levels are low and the farmers are crying out for rain. I cycled down to the marais yesterday, mile after mile of ancient marshland stretched out before me, unchanged for centuries. It is the first time I have spent any time there since the spring and as is always the case when one revisits a place after a considerable length of absence, I was reminded of it’s natural beauty and the peace and serenity all around. I didn’t see another soul, there were no car engines to spoil the silence, just the sound of insects and birds, the occasional swish of a cow’s tail battling the presence of an irksome fly and the faint crunching of my bike tyres on the dusty tarmac. For an hour I was in a completely different world, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the coast and yet only a few kilometres away.

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However, the evenings are beginning to shorten, perhaps the only nod to the changing seasons in our home are the lights that illuminate the interiors a little earlier now. The wonderfully decadent chandelier in the summer kitchen/potting shed has been turned on for the first time in months, it now comes complete with cobweb and resident spider!

P7730272P7730264The lights in the house cast a warm glow over the terrace and as you might have guessed I am a little obsessed with chandeliers, you just cannot have too many in my opinion!

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Log stacks are being replenished around the village

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and there are hints that change is afoot. The excitement of summer is over, Christmas is still a long way off and the next big French holiday is not until the vacances de la toussaint at the end of October. But perhaps the biggest giveaway is the colour, the lushness of spring and abundance of vibrant richly tinted flowers have gone, the grass is no longer green and yet the leaves have not yet taken on their rich red hue of fall. It is as if fifty percent of the colour has been removed from the canvas in these early September days.P7730200P7730201P7730240P7730257P7730231P7730225

At home though, summer is winning the calendar battle. The wisteria is refusing to cease flowering and it is definitely on a mission to see if it can completely cover our house.P7730220P7730222

Our roses are flowering again, there are still plenty of melons in the garden and we are still eating dinner outside. That to me is something worth celebrating!P7730194P7730275P7730192

And finally, for anyone in the area who would like some figs. Please do get in touch, we have as always an abundant crop and they are going to waste. We are giving box loads away as fast as we can but still there are more and more. They are totally organic, spray free and utterly delicious!

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69 thoughts on “Summer’s End or Not??

  • What a delightful read over my coffee this morning. Certainly started my day off the right way, you never fail to put me in a good frame of mind and somehow you always leave me feeling very positive and full of new resolve. Thank you

  • Yes kids all back at school here too and I am moping around not knowing what to do with myself, the house is clean again but I think I preferred it full of noisy teenage bodies and dirty!

  • I always enjoy taking a beautiful trip to France when you post. I found the change in outfits interesting. I am originally from the north and found it odd that people in Texas dressed for Fall. Temperature still can hit the 90s until November and yet they switch to Fall clothing. All the community pools also close down with 2 more months of hot weather.

    • Mmmmm, that sounds delicious. We shall have to try that for sure, thank you! As for wasps, we share our figs with a whole bunch of insects. Roddy swears the hornets won’t do us any harm, but the wasps – you just can’t trust them – I know just what you mean!

  • Thank you for using some of your extra time to share the changing season and its beauty with us. Lovely! Excited to hear about the changes that are afoot!

  • I feel like we are in the same place, climate wise. Here in California it is still hot enough to wear shorts and t-shirts, and not being French, the locals are still doing just that! I so look forward to the sweater and boots time, and have changed to a white shirt and jeans also {European habits are hard to break!} The garden is still blooming like it’s summer, although some of the trees are showing signs of fall, the edges of the leaves are tinted brown. Excited for you and your plans! xo Lidy

    • Hi Lidy – it is fun to change wardrobes, I know, but for me that means it’s going to be raining or going to get blowy soon, with all the attendant problems – as Roddy says grumpily, “Leaf season is almost upon us, sigh!”. Arrgh – that reminds me, must get the blower serviced!!! Thank you!

  • I love the cusps of seasons – those days when hint of what is to come are all around and one feels compelled to eek out the last of the closing season’s offerings. Autumn does not start until September 22nd so I feel quite vindicated in feeling this is very much still summer. But the French. You are so right – the clothes change as soon as la rentrée is on us. The outlook in Grenoble is mid-high 80s and yet I know everyone will be in long sleeves and legs covered and probably carrying a lightweight coat too! Here of course, home of casual, we are still slopping round in shorts and flip-flops – I guess this sojourn gives me that pleasure because I do like my skin to take in as much sun as possible in a season – not baking it but just gilding it. It feels so much healthier. Courage to you – I know you feel the emptiness of your nest at this time of the year and with Millie gone to Poitiers it will feel even more cavernous a silence. I send you love xx

    • It is indeed a cavernous silence, aptly put, Osyth! But – to keep in touch now is easier than it ever was before and I am getting used once again to a bored voice on Facebook during a uni lecture asking me to send her something she’s forgotten! It will make every other weekend a bit special though – she’ll be home often enough XX

  • Oh, lucky you being able to dine outside still, it’s very autumnal here in Edinburgh and needing the lights on earlier each week. And on that topic, I’m with you on chandeliers, not that I have any, but they are so beautiful and bring a touch of glamour to any room. I’m very intrigued by your upcoming changes, can’t wait to hear all about them! xx

  • I would love some, but I live in the states. It has been a busy summer of making jams and pickling cucumbers and making zucchini bread. Just the other day I made apple jam with raisins and brandy.

  • Oh, I wish I were close enough to have some of your figs for jam and the yummy appetizers with goat cheese, basil and pancetta we made the other night.

      • We dry many of them, especially the late ones. Most of the early figs get eaten while still fresh. Many get given away. They are just too good fresh to put them out to dry. Therefore, of the early figs, we only dry what does not get given away. Because they are so fat, they take up all the space on the roof, and they do not dry fast enough to relinquish their space to dry more! Most of the late figs get dried. They are not as fat, so more of them fit into the trays that go out on the roof, and they shrivel up fast enough to allow space for more as they ripen. Just like the early figs are made for eating fresh, the late figs re made for drying. Early figs are sweeter and juicier. Late figs are have a richer flavor and more leathery texture that is ideal for drying.
        Canning did not work so well! Just because they ‘can’ be canned, does not mean that they ‘should’ be! They make a nasty gooey jell and lost much of their flavor in the process. I tried it a second time hoping for something better, but it was pretty much the same. Yuck!
        There have been times when we pruned the tree severely to limit production. It worked well, but because I tend to prune out much of the smaller stems, the production of sweeter and juicier early figs was seriously inhibited, while the late figs were almost as big and juicy as the early figs!

    • Hi Catherine – I agree with everything you say, but Roddy has just reminded me to enjoy it while we can – soon the house will be completely empty…..sigh. Life revolves and continues no matter what, we must make the best of it and enjoy the good bits to the full.

  • Septembre …my favorite month. Also here in Southern Spain the weather is warm but not as hot as it was before
    And the chandeliers…..the best atmosphere ever… seating outside and look into an illuminated room…what a feeling
    Figs….can’t get enough. What a pity not leaving close to you.
    Let’s all of us enjoying the last rays of sun and all other good things summer brought/bring to us. B.t.w. I am also
    looking forward to a beautiful autumn.

    • Oh, your season will be warmer just that little bit longer than us. But then, I think in some places you then get also colder! That bleak grey cold that a flat winter brings to the hinterlands…..hopefully we will see a bit more warmth this year, last winter was UGHH!

  • I do wish I lied nearby to take advantage of your figs!!! Yes, the light is changing and it is late summer, but as someone who wishes she could bottle the light for the winter, I don’t want my seasons rushed. We’re in transition. So glad you’re still eating outside!

  • We are getting shorter evenings in the states also. We had been in a terrible heat spell for over a week. But with rain coming tomorrow it is starting to cool a little tonight.

    i envy your ability to have interior lights ablaze with the doors open in twilight. i love seeing the pictures of glowing chandeliers inside your lovely home, it looks so inviting. My house would be full of little flying bugs, called gnats, then they buzz around your ears while trying to sleep.

    I hate the heat but i always feel so sad as the evenings get dark quickly in September. Summer over and back to normal activities, it can be better though with a schedule.

    You must be missing Millie at every mealtime. How is she? Give here my best wishes for a fabulous first year at college.

    • Hi Patricia, Millie is just fine, enjoying her new surroundings and settling in well, thank you for the kind thoughts Windows and doors open are a must, insects or not – though I may well ask Roddy to do some insect screens for next summer.

  • Another gorgeous post full of lovely reflections and photos. Mille merci’s and enjoy basking in the glow of your beautifully illuminated abode.🍇🍁

  • That looks a very pleasant place and very good to see , hop I would have chance of living in similar kind of houses so that I can enjoy this beautiful nature.

  • There are certain places when you see them you forget all the tensions and feel relaxed I think this is one of them. @https://propertyadviser.in/

  • Love how you painted this picture for us. We are slowly changing seasons here in Texas as well. Rainy weather for a few days always means the season’s are changing. Our summer was entirely too hot (as usual) and the older I get the less I feel I can tolerate it. Your little dog is lovely, and so are the cows. Sending hugs….

  • There is so much to love about this post! It is always an interesting time of year when summer is ending. I tend to feel a little sad as the days get shorter and the kids go back to school. Like you though, I do use this time to set new goals and start new projects. How wonderful that you can still eat outside. Our weather has been unpredictable so we haven’t eaten out on our deck in weeks. Your outdoor table is just beautiful and I love the photo with the lit candles and wine. Thank you for linking up your beautiful post to the September Take Me Away party! Happy Fall!
    Shelley

  • I enjoyed reading your post. I love France and yearn to see more of it even though I’ve been five times there is much more I want to see and experience.
    How special to have so many figs! How fun to share generously with others.

    • France is a country of so many contrasts, I have lived here for years and visited every year since I was a child and yet there is still more I want to see! Hopefully you will get back and explore other areas. xx

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