Well, this year it’s easy to tell it’s arrived. The weather has generally been lovely in April – with the occasional off-day. More often, April is cold and windy. The fine weather has brought everything out early and many of the trees are already in full leaf. Only the oaks and walnuts lag behind. No doubt things will change for Easter, as usual, although the Météo is still hopeful.
The seasonal visitors are arriving
So far, we we’ve heard and seen cuckoos, hoopoes and swallows. The nightingale hasn’t turned up yet but should arrive soon. Last year, we didn’t hear many nightingales close by, so I hope it will be different this year. Their sliding song in the thickets is so evocative; and, despite their name, they sing day and night.
While not exactly seasonal visitors, since they are here all year around, we have seen more hares so far this year than in previous years. This might be because our area has been a réserve de chasse (i.e. no hunting allowed) for several years.
Frogs are tuning up
The frogs carry on their nightly concert in and around the swimming pool and in any other water they can find in the area. Despite all the rain we’ve had, it’s dried up fast. The noisiest are the small green variety. How such a small creature can be so loud is beyond me.
Seasonal treats are on the menu
The new season’s asparagus and the locally-grown garriguette strawberries are back. We don’t like eating these treats out of season, since they are imported then – with all the implications for carbon footprint etc – and they don’t taste the same, anyway.
My first taste of garriguettes was when we were house-hunting 17 years ago almost to the day. We ate a late lunch one day when they were provided en dessert. They are naturally sweet and more elongated than other varieties. Not previously a strawberry fan, I was converted immediately.
Respounchous hunters have come out of the woodwork
I’m always amazed by French people’s ability to glean something edible from unpromising material. Cars are parked mysteriously beside the roads at this season, while their occupants scan the verges, nose down, tail up. They are searching for the local delicacy respounchous, or a form of creeper whose young shoots resemble wild asparagus.
Our neighbours are very partial to it and are delighted if we turn up with a bunch from our wood. There’s even a fête at Cordes (Tarn), celebrating this plant. We don’t eat it ourselves, having been told it’s very bitter. It’s not a taste I’m keen to acquire.
We have been surprised to see motorists from the neighbouring Aveyron département turn up and rootle about in our wood.
‘Don’t they have their own?’ I said to friend Françoise.
‘It doesn’t grow there,’ she replied. ‘Even only 10 kilometres from here at Le Cuzoul, it’s very rare.’
Geraniums are inaugurated
I judge that the danger of a sharp frost is over (we’ve had very few this year, anyway). So yesterday saw the annual installation of my geraniums. I always buy new ones; I can’t get them to last over the winter. They are a bit gaudy but they do look lovely against the stone walls of our house. And, for me, they are redolent of the south of France.
Every time you turn your back the lawn grows
Actually, it never stopped throughout the winter, owing to the mild weather and the rain. This meant that mowing had to start early before it became impossible. Now, it’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge: you just get to the end and then you have to start again.
Nonetheless, as our neighbour Monsieur F says, ‘C’est la belle saison.’ He’s right.
You might also like:
Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved