Autumn is here. I can smell it each night as households along the village road light their first fires of the season, and each day when I go down to the chicken garden the fallen leaves across the grass seem more numerous. After a day of wind I find twigs scattered across the driveway and in the corner of the gîte garden the smell of fermenting figs is only now starting to fade. Despite the number of fruits we harvest, our dear tree always gives us more figs than we can deal with.
Roddy seems to be everywhere with the barrow and the rake, tugging green bins of waste down to the compost heap and in the summer kitchen the biggest spiders of the year are out and about, finding mates in the final scurrying of their lives, tip-toeing to arachnid tunes across the limed walls and in amongst the pots and bags of compost. On the one hand there is decay and death on the air, and yet life is still frenzied in its rush to oblivion.
With Halloween in the air, and the holiday of Toussaints a handful of days away, it’s still warm enough to light the fire-pit and roast marshmallows when needed, and each morning now when I go down to the kitchen I pat the small wood-stove in anticipation. Soon we shall be lighting it before breakfast, and the dogs will lie on the wooden chest alongside it, sharing its warmth.
Life is completing another long slow elliptical circuit through the universe, and our planet, whirling through the vacuum of space, is showing our side of it to the cold outer edge of the galaxy. In just two months we will have reached the nadir of our winter orbit, though and the days will start to become shorter yet again as the lives of all living things on earth teeter on the seasonal axis.
As our home soars across the great void, it is still carrying the curse we call COVID; it’s a virus that is not going away soon, and the human race has adapted to it in many ways, even if we are no nearer to defeating it. COVID will be here for a while, but I have no doubt we will – eventually – find a way to contain it, and hopefully defeat it. It’s just one of many obstacles that our species has struggled against over half a million years or more. It is not the first catastrophe we have faced, and nor will it be the last, but I sincerely hope that this time, when we come out on the far side of this crisis, we will remember it as a herald of change. In the great context of stellar history, COVID is but a short, sharp blip, and I really hope it may jolt our race out of complacency and into a new future. COVID and climate change are the two major issues our children may be facing soon, but it is fascinating to think that conquering one may lead to the defeat of another.
Have a wonderful week, everyone, and stay safe. I hope you enjoy the pictures – they are what they are, images of life in France at this end of a strange year. XXX