Simple Pleasures: Autumn

You might be wondering why Life on La Lune has been quiet for a while. We’ve had a few issues in recent weeks, but with luck those have dwindled, so I will say no more and move on. If you live in France, you can’t have failed to notice that the government has introduced further restrictions this week as the Covid situation becomes critical. I’m afraid it was a no-brainer after the summer free-for-all.

This doesn’t half mess up my plans to get through the list of places I had planned to visit, which partly explains the blog’s unwonted silence. But we have to accept that everyone is better off staying at home if they can.

Tempestuous weather

During the spring lockdown, I wrote about simple pleasures to be derived simply from looking around your immediate surroundings, when your horizon shrinks to a small canvas. Following the summer canicule and the early autumn monsoon, when it was too hot or too wet to venture out, and the tempest that hit the southwest on Tuesday night, the weather has called a truce this weekend.

The hurricane was a surprise. We knew it was going to be windy, but not storm force. At times, I was afraid the roof would sail away or the chimney fall in. Happily, neither of these occurred. At a cursory glance, the place didn’t sustain much damage, apart from a lot of sticks and small branches littering the lawn. And several billion acorns. A tree had snapped off in the hedgerow of the adjacent field.

We weren’t entirely unscathed, though. The wall of the citerne behind the barn, which the SF restored, had shifted. A large ash tree grows right next to it, and the force of the wind whipping the tree about made the wall move outwards. Another autumn repair job for the SF, in addition to the terrace wall that collapsed after torrential rain.

Moving citerne
Terrace wall, which I showed in the previous post.

Autumn treasures

This afternoon, the weather was calm, sunny and mild: not a hint of the forces of nature unleashed a few days before. We continued the inspection tour in our wood, stopping to admire the views from the top of the hill. They are not spectacular, but I would still call them delightful. The rolling countryside is ever-changing according to the seasons, the light and the time of day.

“Blue remembered hills”. View to the Southeast. On a clear day, you can see the looming shape of the Black Mountain far away.

View to the Southwest, with the water tower that pumps our water just visible

View to the Northeast from behind the house of ploughed field, woodland and hills beyond.

The wind had ripped the leaves from the little oak tree: the one that isn’t indigenous and refuses to grow taller but has survived droughts and is developing what might be a magnificent crown in a couple of hundred years’ time. The leaves are almost as long as the tree, and much larger than those of the indigenous oaks, as you can see from the images.

Just as spring smells of rising sap and burgeoning greenness, so autumn has its own distinctive scent. A slightly burnt smell mixed with the musty fragrance of crumbling leaves. Some of the trees have turned altogether, like the wild maple in the neighbour’s field below.

  

I was hoping we might find cèpe mushrooms in the wood, but whereas some people have the knack of finding them, they seem to go into hiding when I appear. All I saw were some dubious white mushrooms, already invaded by slugs.

There were other treasures: jewel-like berries, probably deadly nightshade; flat, dry seedcases of honesty, like coins, which was so prolific in the spring; a long-uninhabited snail shell, bleached by the sun; and the ivy coming into flower and already attracting the honey bees. In fact, the ivy flowers have a smokily sweet smell. I wonder if this is detectable in the taste of the honey.

Lulled by the warmth, the air was humming with insects. As well as the honey bees, lone bumble bees drifted around like zeppelins, while black carpenter bees prospected in the holes in the house wall, presumably seeking winter quarters.

Nature gets on with its work regardless of what else is going on.

If you live in Europe (including the UK, even if it doesn’t want to be included), don’t forget the clocks go back during the small hours tomorrow morning.

You might also like

Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Simple pleasures

A brief history of (French) time     

Copyright © Life on La Lune 2020. All rights reserved.

13 comments

  1. Don’t do down your views, they are beautiful and ever changing, I imagine. Ours is beginning to open up as the trees lose their leaves and the hills the other side of the valley reappear. The leaves seemed to suddenly change colour last weekend. We had to drive to Brive and everywhere was golden, especially the walnut orchards. As for the weather, we haven’t been able to walk for the last couple of weeks. The plumber was due on the only nice day and we avoid weekends because of the hunters, plus the storm blew away our new plastic greenhouse. Mr McGregor has put together a new, hopefully, more stable (and more expensive) one. We will need something to occupy us if the expected lockdown arrives..winter greenhouse veg? Keep safe and keep enriching our lives with your writing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love our views, all the more so because they are tantalising rather than spectacular. The leaves haven’t quite turned here yet, but our walnut trees changed colour within a day over the weekend. They are always the last to come into leaf and among the first to lose them.

      Sorry to hear about your greenhouse. Hopefully the replacement will be longer lasting. And yes, lockdown again by the look of it, probably with the return of the form we have to complete even for a walk down the lane. We were never actually stopped and asked to show it, but you can bet your life we would be if we neglected to bring one!

      Thank you for your kind words. My challenge over the next few weeks will be to find things of sufficient interest to readers to write about…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We all know that when those walls are being repaired it will lead to:

    a) Roman gold cache

    b) “lost” Templar documents

    c) crevice to a previously unknown cave full of Paleo drawings and paintings

    Don’t hold out on us!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha, ha! Cultured me says b) or c) would be wonderful. Greedy me is secretly hoping for a). Alas, it will be none of those. But I will keep you fully informed in great and painful detail.

      Like

  3. Your words and images paint a wonderful picture of your surroundings, Vanessa. I, for one, think your views are stunning. I have fallen in love with your garden. 🙂
    I hope the tempestuous weather is over for the season, and winter. There is always enough work to be done without damage repair!
    I, too, count myself lucky to have pleasant views and a garden to enable Rod and myself to have some enjoyment during these restricted times.
    Stay safe and well both of you and bask in your beautiful home and garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Chris. We know people who have more dramatic views than we do, but I love our views over the countryside. Whenever I feel a bit fed up, the rolling landscape cheers me up no end.
      We are lucky to have gardens. Sometimes ours is a lot of work, but it keeps us fit and active! I feel for people who are confined to an apartment at this time.
      Stay safe. x

      Like

  4. I think there are a lot of people learning to appreciate what is around them in these troubled times. We watch the figures in France climb from the other side of the world in Australia. Sometimes I think that we will never return to France and that makes me very sad.
    Autumn in France is lovely. We do get some colour here but not to the extent that we have seen in France. We are coming into summer here. We are managing to keep the numbers down, but it is always there in the background. Apparently cold and flu numbers in winter were down because of restrictions, social distancing and elevated hand hygiene. So I suppose that is a positive.
    Your blogs are very welcome. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully, one day this wretched thing will be beaten, and you can come back to France. 🙂
      The autumn colours are usually lovely here, helped along by summer drought, but not as good as in parts of N America. It’s my favourite time of year, when the weather is fine, anyway.
      My doctor says he expects there to be far fewer colds and flu this winter because of wearing masks, etc., so there is always a silver lining. A pity it had to come like this, though.
      I hope you and yours are staying safe and well.

      Like

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