Autumn Orbit

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

14 thoughts on “Autumn Orbit

  1. What a wonderful piece of writing. You have put the current COVID crisis into perspective. It is not the first, and won’t be the last, difficulty that our people will face. Previous generations have faced war, TB and polio outbreaks, which caused many deaths and lingering illness.
    Let us enjoy the seasons as they come around. Nature is particularly beautiful at this time of year at my home in Ireland, surrounded as I am by many nature trees.
    I wish you and your family continued good health and look forward to the day when I can visit my beloved France again. Ann. Ireland 🇮🇪

  2. I enjoyed the photos and the look at your autumn. I just wish I could have some of those figs! 🙂 It’s finally cooling down a bit here, into the 90’s during the day. What I really want to know is where the year went!

    Stay safe and healthy.


  3. Thought of you all (esp Gigi) today as we watched Roland Garros & Nadal taking the cake!
    Autumn is coming but we were supposed to break a record today & hit 100F—not sure if we di.

  4. So beautifully written and illustrated as always. I am sorry that France and Italy are struggling again. I wish you and your family vibrant good health and share with you the hope that we will muddle through to a better day.

  5. Bonjour Susan,
    I want to congratulate you and Roddy for the incredible high quality of your pictures.
    Especially the one in black and white that make me think of the british movie ” The third man “, the masterpiece made by Carol Reed in 1948. It looks like so close to the famous scene of the shadow of a man ( Orson wells ? ) hunted in the streets of Vienna. Magnifique !!!!!!

  6. You say it in the best possible words, dear Susan….. Yes, our lives have changed in no uncertain terms, we haven’t visited out house for the longest time, we can’t as we would have to live sequestered for 2 weeks after returning and we can’t do that with work and stuff. So, we don’t come. Thinking often also of your children, Izzi in the UK, Millie & Jack in France, but not ‘chez vous’…. Hetty and Gigi soon be gone too?!
    Stunning photos, as always. I hope that the future will be especially kind to you and good for your letting out the lovely gîte. You all are never far from my thoughts.

  7. I love your photos, i used to take a lot myself. I particularly like the green door, with the orange lichen and grey white stone – I think you could have it as a wallpaper on one wall!

    Your photo of the pink and cream building reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream, although missing the chocolate! I belonged to a camera club once and they said it is always worth getting in closer for better shots, either physically or with a zoom lens.

    I would have been interested to see the reflection of the buildings only in a photo.

    By the way Covid is the ‘flu and the ‘flu is internal poisons caused by our metabolism and which we must excrete. The cure for the ‘flu is in Covid’s name; vitamin C Or VItamin D, capitals emphasised. I have more on my site if you are interested.

    I must have a more extensive look at your other posts – my wife loves France (I have grown fonder of it over the years as I have seen more of it) and we have very good French friends.

  8. I so much relish these glimpses of your life in a French village. We’ve thrown away all the precious old values in the US and then wonder why people are troubled. Your posts remind me of what’s still possible. Blessings to you in this Samhain season!

  9. Thanks very much for that eloquent overview of the world we find ourselves in. Your descriptions of life in your world, added with your pictures & philosophical thoughts are very comforting and I thank you!!

    Sent from my iPhone

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