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.
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.
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.
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.
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