We’ve had the Chilly Month of May, Unsettled June and now Dismal July. And August has resolutely kept up the tradition so far. I can honestly say that so far this is the worst summer in our 24 years here, which is saying something, since we’ve experienced some pretty gloomy ones. This is not what you expect when you move to the South of France. However, there are pros as well as cons. Let’s look at those, plus some other news from this corner of Occitanie.
We’ll get the cons out of the way first. I am always aware that con is un gros mot (rude word) in French, so perhaps I should call them negatives instead.
We’ve had an awful lot of rain this year (see the SF’s meticulously constructed chart below). July’s rain was well above the average at 114.5 mm. We would normally expect 51.3 mm. Only March and April had much lower than average rainfall.
In some ways, this is good, since it makes up for the deficit in previous years. However, it’s not been good for the farmers around here, who have struggled to get in the hay and then the grain harvest. In fact, one farmer neighbour was afraid that he had bagged up the damp silage too early, and that it might spontaneously combust, as it almost did one year. He had to have the fire brigade on hand that time. Thankfully, this time it didn’t.
Neither is it good for the outdoor events that have tentatively crept back after the interdictions of 2020. It’s almost impossible to arrange anything in advance, since the weather forecast changes from day to day. After the privations of Covid, “Il ne manquait que ça” (we only needed that), as my hairdresser put it.
Speaking purely selfishly, we are thoroughly fed up with no sun and low temperatures. On Saturday afternoon, they dipped as low as 12C. I have not stopped mowing and strimming throughout the summer. Our attempts to paint shutters and gates, all of which needed it this year, take place between showers. The weeds are having a field day. And we haven’t had a lot of use out of our swimming pool (I know; first world problems).
Before I feel too sorry for myself, let’s look at it from the other side. The trees and plants are lapping up the rain, and I have hardly had to water this year. I have never seen the lawn so green in August, and the plants are much more vigorous and flowering more abundantly. By this time, they are normally gasping for rain.
It’s possible to go outside and not have to retreat indoors after five minutes because of the heat. The canicule (heatwave) can be pretty vicious here. We had no less than three of them in 2019. When the sun does make a brief appearance, the lower temperatures mean that one can garden and go for walks comfortably. For elderly or vulnerable people, the lack of a hot spell must be a great relief.
While parts of Southern Europe and Western America and Canada have sizzled in an unprecedented heatwave with the attendant forest fires, for us the chances of wildfires this year are drastically reduced. This may not be the case in Provence or Corsica, which are as dry as ever.
So, there are advantages and disadvantages. The main problem is that there is nothing in between canicule and weather that can only be described as autumnal at best. At least the forecast is for it to improve from the weekend.
In other news…
A few weeks ago, I wrote about our visit to the Jazz Festival in Marciac almost 20 years ago. This was part of a blogging event run by Sabrina over at the Frenchness blog. She has now kindly produced a PDF of the posts, which include mine as well as one from Eric about his trip to Paris and Sarah about Brittany. It’s available to read online or download if you wish. Be warned; it’s a large file because of the images, so if you have an internet connection that runs on steam, as we do, it might take a while.
Parisot art festival
Every year, one of our local villages, Parisot, hosts an art festival. A distinguishing feature is that the art is displayed in venues around the village. This shot from a previous year shows the former butcher’s shop, in which old photos of Parisot were displayed.
This provides an excellent opportunity to see some of the hidden corners of Parisot, weather permitting, of course. There’s also an evening jazz concert to take place in the grounds of the Château de l’Astorguié in the village.
The festival is running again this year, under new management. It has been a well-kept secret, since I found out about it only last week. If you are in the area, it’s worth a visit. More here. Report to follow.
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