Spring has taken a long time to arrive this year. Everything is coming out very late and the weather – up till this weekend – has generally been cooler than normal. However, we saw incontrovertible signs that spring is here this weekend, even if it is a bit spasmodic.
The past week has been very busy, not least with le choeur de Parisot’s first concert this year at Limogne (Lot) on Friday – more of that in a later post – hence the erratic blogging rate this week. In the background, SW France has been tuning up for spring again. It had to arrive sometime but everybody wondered when.
The cuckoo arrived here on 12th April this year. This is late, according to our statistics. I wouldn’t have blamed it if it had decided to stay in Africa. Now it’s here, it’s doing the circuit of the area, cuckooing madly from all points of the compass. Hoopoes arrived a couple of weeks ago and we have seen them several times. No nightingales yet, though.
Sparrows, blue tits and great tits nest in the walls of our house every year. We have been watching a pair of blue tits assiduously carrying nesting materials into a hole in the house wall. Unfortunately, the fledglings are not usually streetwise enough to escape the jaws of our cat. But we noticed a particularly high concentration of blue tits and great tits on the fat balls we put out during the winter, so perhaps this will be their year.
Since it’s been so wet, the wild flowers are lovely this year. We had more violets, daisies and cowslips on the lawn than we have seen for many years. You can almost see the grass growing and the trees burgeoning. The weeds are doing the same, alas.
I’ve seen asparagus flown in from Peru and strawberries juggernauted from Spain in Leclerc supermarket. But what’s produced locally is so much better – and kinder to the environment. For the past week, we have been enjoying locally-grown asparagus and the sweetest strawberries you ever tasted – gariguettes – all available at our local market. They are so much better for having only a short season.
The garden wakes up
With a vengeance, unfortunately. When we have a wet spring, like this one, we have to take every opportunity to get out and suppress nature before it gets too unruly. This weekend we had wall-to-wall sunshine – a rare event this year – and you can almost see the grass grow. I can barely type since I spent three hours today strimming, having already done a couple of hours of mowing.
The first cut of the year is always the worst since the grass is damp and juicy. It will be like that until mid-end June, when it will turn brown. But this really is la belle saison – if you have time to stop and look.
The swimming pool goes into summer mode
With a certain trepidation, we removed the winter cover yesterday afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised by the clearness of the water. The bottom of the pool was a bit green (when is it not?) and covered in strange squiggles this year. We found only one decomposing frog that had somehow managed to squeeze itself under the straight jacket of the winter cover. The SF spent the whole day cleaning the pool.
I hope we will get a lot of use out of it this year. A swimming pool was close to the top of our list of priorities when we bought a house in France; now it’s dropped off the bottom.
First barbecue of the year
Après l’effort, c’est le reconfort and we felt we deserved our first barbecue this evening. Last year we had one on 25th March. No chance of that this year. It was a little breezy this evening but still warm.
As we ate our sausages, a blackbird serenaded us from the treetops and we felt that now, maybe, spring really had arrived.
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