November Days

23584519_10155664432011224_1178478269_nIf spring is the time of hope and regeneration, then for me autumn and in particular the month of November is a time of reflection. The days are shorter, winter is fast approaching, the blue skies, whilst lovely are not quite so frequent and the fire is permanently lit. The festive season is fast approaching, marking yet another landmark in the annual calender, but just for a couple of weeks, this is a month when I like to take stock of things.

Now before I go any further I must apologise, I have not replied to everyone’s comments you left on the last two posts. I have read them all, and I will reply to you all, it is something I very strongly believe in, if you take the time to write to me I love returning the compliment and writing to you. But these past couple of weeks have been somewhat hectic, I will get around to replying this week, when I hope things are going to be calmer!
It’s been the strangest autumn I can remember. Summer seemed as if it would last forever this year and then the tables turned. If one closed one’s eyes and ignored the signs of nature, it would have seemed as if we had fallen headfirst into winter. The skies were dark and grey and the rain almost relentless. Suddenly it was cold, evenings weren’t just chilly, they were cold. Apart from leaves still clinging to branches it looked like winter. Fall it seemed had bypassed us altogether.
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And then, just as we had got used to the idea that this was an annum of oddities, the skies cleared. Finally the sun returned and the mercury rose, there was real warmth in the air once more. Laundry flapped on the line this week, I hurriedly stripped all the beds, making the most of this fine spell. There is nothing, in my opinion, that can beat line drying sheets and clothing. Our indian summer had returned.
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And to make things complete now we are back to cooler, average temperatures, sunny days, chilly nights, real autumn weather!
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The persimmons are ready for eating
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and on fine days locals, often pensioners, are out in their shirt sleeves playing pétanque. It is such a popular sport and it can get extremely competitive. I’ve seen how serious this becomes and watched, as a casual passerby, many tournaments taking place.
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My days are busy, there is little or no spare time, but I try to get out on my bike for at least half an hour every day, most of the time I pedal as hard as I can, taking in a couple of good hills, even though our area is mostly very flat. But, despite it being great exercise and vital for one’s health, I also always take along my camera. When cycling or walking we see so much more than when hurrying past in the car. I stop when something catches my eye.
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I see the changes that have been taking place here and there. People working hard on projects. Wood is being delivered all around this month. Every now and then I come across a stray hollyhock still thinking it is summer and blooming miraculously and the roses have certainly been putting on a brave face, despite the rain and they are now being rewarded, opening their petals to face the sun.
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I pass this gorgeous little cottage regularly, and I just adore it, there is something terribly romantic about the notion of being cocooned inside a darling little space like this, the log fire roaring, something delicious simmering on the stove, low beams and rugs on the wooden floors.
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But then flip the coin and I also love the majestic chateaux we have in the area. Imagine living in grand style here. One would of course need a good sized wallet to accompany such a property and staff to help would be a necessity, but, it all makes a wonderful daydream. I asked myself which I would honestly prefer, the perfect cottage, or the perfect chateau and you know, I don’t actually know the answer, both have the pros and cons, in a fantasy world!
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So I’ll leave you pondering that and wish you all a very happy Sunday. xx

47 thoughts on “November Days

  • Ah, that last photo…I would love to return to that chateau drive after a long ride on horseback with slack reins and a big smile on our faces. On rêve…

  • Susan, you are absolutely forgiven for being quiet
    and busy. Children and homes have a tendency to do that, and the children are far more important in terms of getting all the attention.
    We also have been swaying between beautiful and balmy and cold and chilly. It’s the blue skies that are so important for keeping us perky and boosting the moral as the long winter months come closer.
    I’ve been feeling guilty about lighting the fire earlier and earlier in the day so your comment about firewood and your daily fire have left me enjoying the heat ( and beauty) of mine without any more pangs!

    I would love to get my bike out and cycle the country lanes with you and dissect which house would be perfect, and a few hills thrown in would do me the world of good! I think I like the little gatehouse in the last picture, especially if not attached to the main house.

    Keep us dreaming and have a lovely weekend!

  • As I get older the smaller homes apeal to me. Very charming and easier to keep. I love you and your blog. I look forward to hearing about all of it.

  • Live life and don’t worry about it. I feel a bit the same on the days I work (today, after church, being one of them): I just can’t get to all the blogs. But there are so many other things that need to be done, even in this month of contemplation, often busy contemplation. We’ve had a bit of snow twice in the last week, cosmetic only and lovely! If I live somewhere with winter, where it will be dark too long and cold, I want snow to beautify the time. 🙂 I know not everyone feels that way, but snow brings a huge smile to my face.

    The chateau reminds me of a library near us in Cleveland. Although not chateau-size, of course, it had been a very large home on a large property and our girls, when little, used to say, “Mom, wouldn’t you want to live there?” My prosaic answer was that there would be so much housework, to which they would reply that we’d have the money to have someone else do those things. 🙂 I’d like a good-sized house with character and leave the enormous homes, chateau or merely mansion, to others.

    I’m happy to see that you’re not having a drought where you are. In the Haute-Saône where my s-i-l and b-i-l are, they’ve actually had water rationing and it’s been terrible there and in parts of Germany as well. Of course in the US, we could use lots of rain to quench the terrible fires in California.

    Have a wonderful week!

    janet

  • Yes, this really my favorite time of the year. Maybe it’s because we are usually in France. The cool edge gives just a bit more energy to the hike or walk. We were in Eze today and I could not imagine the heat and crowds of the summer. I also love the hints of wood smoke in the air.
    Ali x

  • Bonjour Susan,
    You are excused for not replying, understandable at this time of the year when our bodies get tired earlier in the day as
    the dark night comes earlier.
    I love your pictures today! Thanks for an enjoyable Sunday blog.
    We, on the east coast of US, have been deluged with rain and cold and a day of snow, which is not typical in early November.
    We finally had a sunny autumn day yesterday and it looks like it will be continued today. I am looking forward to enjoying this gorgeous day and wish you and your family a joyous Sunday also.
    Alors, Patty

  • Beautiful photos…as always!! Reflection does require peace,quiet, and inner solitude. I agree with you that fall is a “time of reflection”. I find myself evaluating my goals,wishes,hopes, and dreams.

  • I’m much more of a spring person, I like to see the flowers appear, along with the sunshine, although it’s not always a given here in Edinburgh! It has been an amazing autumn here, much warmer than usual, but forecast to be much colder next week. I do like to draw the curtains of an evening, turn on the lamps for a cosy glow.
    I watch a couple of TV programmes here about Brits in France who buy chateaux and do them up to become hotels, fascinating to watch, but such hard work in reality! I think I’d prefer a smaller and cosier home which I could afford to keep warm!

    Beautiful photos as ever, Susan, I’ve just discovered Instagram (and now I have no life, I am addicted!)and see on your feed that your home is looking warm and cosy too. xxx

    • I think we’ve watched the same programmes! So much hard work, I marvel at how they work seemingly 20 hours a day and I cannot even begin to imagine the cost of the upkeep, our house is bad enough! xx

  • A lovely post, Susan! Oh, to dream of having a reasonably-sized place to call our own, in France! Definitely lower-budget than a chateau! Happy Holiday Season!

  • If you do move into that château, can I buy your current place? 🙂 Our temperatures in the northern U.S. have been all over the map as well, but somehow your weather swings seem so much more poetic and beautiful. (Like your photos. How grateful I am that you bring a camera along on your bike rides!) And although I both applaud and echo your philosophy about replying to comments, please don’t ever feel bad on my account if you miss a few. It’s always a joy to read your posts, even if you can’t possibly come back and acknowledge all of your guests personally.

  • Oh, how I feel exactly like you; it’s uncanny really….. Travelling from Paris to Zurich by TGV I followed a bit the sudden changes of the landscape and I realised that just as what I see from my windows at home, it was the same from the train windows: We went from full, hot, relentlessly dry, sunny, even cruel summer to near winter without a hint of an Indian summer or autumn. I dragged my ‘Stewi’ drying ‘dragonfly’ system to the basement where my sheets & bedding dries during the cold season. BUT I’ve also eaten twice in the veranda, right until this week where it became so cold that the question wasn’t even asked, all of a sudden. I have also dragged, pushed and pulled all my outdoor plants I kept around the house, into the veranda where they block most of the space now and where I water them sparingly once a week during the winter.
    I would NEVER ever want to own a château after all my times with various properties. A nice, tidy, cosy cottage but with rather higher than normal rooms (you know I have a tall husbands and we lived in places where he hit his head regularly – and I can’t see any blood 😉 ) – so maybe Heide and I can share your home after you’ve moved to your Château?! 🙂
    Your photos are marvellous as ever – and you have my undivided appreciation and admiration for your sportive efforts AND for taking your camera with you… I lack your energy and rather sit in the warmth of our lovely house with a book, a mug of tea or rather a glass of red, some soft and yes, why not, Christmassy music in the background, than chase my sorry backside through the pleasant village we live in. What I DO love is walking along the water, through forests (fat chance where I live!) and I took some glorious camera shots yesterday at Lake Zurich where we walked after a longish visit at my mum’s.
    And please don’t EVER apologize for not replying illico presto – you have far more important things to look after before talking to all of us – and I think I speak for everyone here when I say: We can wait for your echos to our outbursts! Take my love and greetings to your family and pets and chicks and all the rest. Roddy can take over the spiders (I have tons of them now because they don’t like to be cold!) and I’m buying bird feed already and readying the feeders for the first time when the flying hungry feathered friends can’t pick the soil any longer.
    I took out the quickly growing and over-enthusiastic mushrooms from around the dead trunks and stated that many of them were already being nibbled by snails and other little creatures…. the only signs of some sort of autumn this year.

    • Hot, cold, wet, beautiful balmy all over again and now the heavens have opened the wind is howling and we are battering down the hatches, except it is Millie today who is playing in a tournament and Gigi has a training match and I cannot stay at home by the fire!!! Still it is kind of fun, watching the trees swaying and it does feel so cosy inside whilst I am here! xxx

  • Well, I’ll just pretend I am sitting on the back of your bike getting to know your neighbourhood. Allowing you to explain about what we pass from your long-term knowledge and experience. Enjoying the opposite season in this case, I think :)? Living where the temperature never gets lower than -2C and the darkness never descends before 5pm or departs after 7am I wonder how I would last in what I knew as a small child but have forgotten since. In my part of the world, after a dry, dry winter we are dreading the summer months, not for the possibly 40+C temps but the very likely bushfires akin those devastating California at the moment . . . am glad for every temperate windless day to get thru’ the season . . .meanwhile you have a wonderful beginning to real winter . . .

    • I hope and pray that you have a good summer without the blistering heat and without the fires. Winter here is fast approaching, battening down the hatches today, but feeling cosy inside. xxx

  • As pretty as the formal rows of trees are (and I happen to be impressed by such formality) I also notice the pretty blue sky. We got blue sky only last Thursday. Today, the air quality is supposedly the worst in the world. It is exhausting.

    • Ahh but I do love replying, because I love reading them. I cannot imagine living somewhere where the air quality is so bad, makes one grateful for what one has, even if today it is howling with wind and the rain is lashing down! p.s. the lemon trees all came back to life, no fruit this year but looking super healthy and the little lime has decided now is a good time to flower, even though it is now so cold I have had to bring it into the summer kitchen!!! xx

      • Oh, our air quality is not always like this. It was only so bad at the time because of all of the smoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise. We have the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay to the West and South, and the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the East and North.
        That is good to hear about the citrus trees. Limes bloom about now, which seems odd for the citrus that dislikes cool weather more than most.

  • Your blog is my oasis as well. Today my husband is traveling to Rochefort sur mer to surprise his mother. She’s had a rough battle this year – but is in the clear – but needs some cheering up. I suspect he is on the train now from Paris to La Rochelle and will then take the commuter. I can see him ringing her bell and the look on her face – she’s told him not to come – but I’m sure she will be ecstatic. Thank you for the beautiful pictures – wishing you a Merry Christmas. Suz

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