It seemed the rain would never end, this autumn. Each time it stopped and we opened the door to the garden, the world would darken shortly thereafter and the sky would burst into tears again without hesitation. The insects waited patiently for their last fling of the year, but for many it never came. Some, like the bush cricket above, watched each rain drop slide down the kitchen window, wondering when it was all going to end.
I must go back a bit, and apologise for neglecting you the past couple of weeks – life has been one long train ride with no stops for a while, and no sooner have I finished one task, than another has popped up. Amongst it all, Gigi and I spent a week in the UK at a tennis tournament, and we had a gale of wind that blew almost all of the leaves off the trees and dropped a dead trunk across Millie’s boat – I hasten to add it is not a serous affair and the good side of the bargain is we will have more wood to burn some time in the future. While this was going on, the dogs looked thoroughly disinterested and Pixel got to learn where the good places are to snooze in winter.
The standing water has gradually got deeper, wherever we look and wherever we drive. For the first time since we have been here we now have a waterlogged garden, and all along the banks of the Charente the poplars have their toes dipping in the advancing tide.
As a result, I have had to turn a blind eye to the many refugees we have in the house who have entered by various means, whether it be wing, silk or webbed foot. Along the way some of the creatures from the garden have tried to be very nefarious in their means of entry. The poor spider below (a Zoropsis spinimana if you’d like to know) was the only creature I refused entry to, but Roddy took pity on it and took it away down to the boot-room where he had spotted a girlfriend for the new arrival earlier in the week. I should be quick to point out that I do indeed shake out my wellies as a matter of course – old Caribbean habits die hard.
Pixel has been most unimpressed by the rainy season and as any young dog would, added the hideout below to his growing list of good places to snuggle up in. Any port in a storm, I suppose! I do not hold out much hope of him playing anything, however.
We did have a mini break in the weather one brave day, and I went for a walk through the village during a lapse in the work schedule (it was too wet to do anything in the garden), and found our market place looking hauntingly beautiful under a patch of clear-ish sky. I should add that it jolly well should look good after its €800,000 facelift last year!
The same afternoon we celebrated the only birthday in the family we have this end of the year, and I forgot I had the camera in B&W when Hetty came to blow out her fifteen candles in a huge rush. The cake, which was sugar-free specially for her, proved to be no barrier for those who DO eat sugar, and shortly after this photo was taken, there remained little of it bar the candles and a rather bereft-looking plate. I shall have to make a bigger one next time! As the picture is in monotone, I should point out for those interested that it was a chocolatey affair, with added bonus good stuff, along with some raspberries and other fruit from the freezer.
Talking of fruit, this is the time of year when our persimmon tree comes into its own, and as its leaves fall to leave bare branches, and the autumn turns sombre and grey, the tree’s golden fruit hangs heavy like golden Christmas orbs, a promise of goodness for the dark times to come. Our variety is one we have to pick and then ripen indoors before consuming them when they achieve a very wobbly state. To be truthful, I am undecided whether I really like them or not, but they’re good for you and ours are free, so it would be churlish to do anything but enjoy them. They are definitely an acquired taste though, and Roddy and I laugh at each when we have to pucker our lips over our fruit plates!
This same afternoon, Roddy found some life on the false orange bush, and he photographed the last hover-fly of the year (left) along with a bonus fly, the pair of them content to share a moment in the last few days of their lives before the universal cycle took them away, as it does all living creatures. I’m tempted to think they left by boat, to be honest, as it started raining again before I’d even put the chickens to bed.
And then we went to celebrate Thanksgiving at a friend’s house, where as the solitary American he held sway over a mixed table of English and French, served up some outstanding food, and made us very appreciative of the good things in life. I sat for a while with Louis, the gentleman who I wrote about last year who was risen at crack of down one day as a six year-old, and was then driven to be a witness to the last execution by guillotine in the Charante Maritime. His father was the executioner, if you recall. I asked Louis if I could take his picture and he nodded happily. There is a grace in Louis that I love, a turn of head and a pair of eyes that sympathise with everything, which for a man of nearly 90 is a trait I thoroughly approve of. I only wish that I have his grace and exhibit the same appetite for life that he does if I ever reach his grand old age. He has certainly seen an awful lot in his life, for sure….
And then last night we had a sunset again, a purple affair which lingered along the horizon for many minutes, and I stopped in the marsh for a while with the dogs as the world slowly darkened and the birds quietened. There was no rush hour along the marsh, and at an appropriate moment I took a picture of the purple bits and realise now that the Tour de Broue was there in the dusk, glimmering a little out across the landscape – as it has done for centuries and will do so long after we are all gone.
Next stop Christmas, I thought to myself as I struggled back up the hill in heavy boots. I wondered briefly if I could train Evie and Pixel to tow me along a little, perhaps in tress like a pair of huskies? Another project to begin, perhaps.
Have a wonderful week!