Summer 2021 Round-up

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Summer? What summer? That’s how it feels at this end of it. After a very dismal few months, September distinguished itself by being the rainiest month in our 24 years here. Now, autumn has arrived with a vengeance, starting with continuing rain and a chilly north-easterly. However, there are glimmers of light on the horizon.

The SF (my husband, aka the Statistics Freak for his penchant for collecting stats of all types) claims that summer runs from 1st May to 30th September. This may be stretching a point. It certainly doesn’t coincide with meteorological summer (June, July, August). But if we are lucky, we can swim in all of those months, so I suppose that constitutes a working definition.

Damp squib

In recent years, we have become accustomed to summer not really taking off until about mid-June. This year it didn’t take off at all, with the exception of a few hot days here and there.

The upsides are that the countryside remained very green throughout, we were able to get out to complete much-needed external chores without being frizzled and we hardly had to water the garden at all. Even drought-resistant plants like sedum (see photo at the beginning of the post) seem to have thrived this year. The downside was that we never stopped mowing, strimming and weeding, whereas we normally get a couple of months’ respite.

The cumulative rainfall for the previous 12 months (1st October 2020 – 30th September 2021) is the highest it’s ever been at 1,223 mm. We have experienced several torrential downpours, one of which flooded the local riverside campsite and friends’ garden when the River Bonnette overflowed.

La Bonnette in full spate upstream of Caylus. This was actually one wet May, but no doubt it was like this in September this year.

September here is normally a mellow, luminous month with warm sunshine. This year, it was a washout. We had 215 mm of rain, the most we’ve ever experienced in a single month and almost four times what we would normally expect in September.

Unfortunately, this meant that the planned meal to celebrate the restoration of Teysseroles chapel couldn’t take place onsite. It was transferred to the salle des fêtes instead. 

On the bright side

The upsides? The weather is forecast to improve for at least a week or so, although it won’t be hot. That’s okay. We can catch up with some walking and garden tasks. Autumn is a lovely time of year to walk, provided it’s dry. Today, as I write, the sun is slanting through the leaves outside, and I have glimpses of an uninterrupted blue sky between them. Long may it last!

Misty October morning behind our house

Our wood is stacked and ready for the winter. In fact, we’ve started burning it already. All carted and stacked by my own fair hand between showers, since the SF was recovering from cataract ops in September and wasn’t allowed to do heavy work. Eighty wheelbarrow-loads of logs. I now have muscles like a prize fighter.

The walnuts are falling, and it looks like a good crop this year. Also, the nuts are good quality; very few have gone rotten. The two walnut trees in front of our house are grafted. For some reason, this makes them flower later, so they missed the week of sharp frosts in April. Also, they don’t like drought, so this year’s rain has been welcome to them (if not to us).

In other news

Covid has receded sufficiently to allow some activities to resume: my yoga class in Villefranche, for example, to which I last went in early March 2020. It was good to catch up with people I haven’t seen in all that time and to stretch unaccustomed bits of me again. Nonetheless, it doesn’t do to let one’s guard down too much, otherwise we will all be banged up again in a late autumn lockdown.

Life on La Lune has been featured in two French life magazines this autumn. More about those in later posts.

This month and next I will also be featuring interviews in the Ma Vie Française series with people who have experienced life in France. So watch this space.

Stay well.

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15 comments

  1. Hi Vasnessa,
    so much wood, we envy you. We have only half of it and we’ll start burnung it usually in November. It’s still quite warm and sunny here. Like every year, we had a dry summer but in the last nights we had some rain filling our empty water butts.
    Now we’ll disappear in our sauna, all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting, Klausbernd. If Cley is Cley Next the Sea in Norfolk, then I can understand that it’s been dry, since that’s always the driest part of England. It’s been unusually wet in SW France this year, but we are now enjoying some dry and sunny weather. My husband is Swedish, so he knows all about saunas, but we don’t have one here!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Vanessa,
        I was partly brought up in Sweden, near Växjö and my wife is Norwegian. I started to love saunas after my first job in Finland.
        Indeed, Cley is Cley next the Sea at the North Norfolk coast.
        Have a happy week
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So it wasn’t my imagination that this has been the wettest year since we moved here in 2004. I love the charts the SF produces. Gardening has been a real challenge this year and our one courgette plant that usually gives us a glut rotted in the ground.
    Re the logs, cutting and piling are no more for us as we have swapped to a pellet stove. Not as aesthetically pleasing as the jotul but more practical and eco, we are assured.
    Re things opening up, I went to my gym ‘fort’ class and was ok but the stretching class the following week has led to a lot of pain.. sciatica, I suspect. Serves me right after an 18month gap! I had hoped the exercise bike and swimming in circles in our hors sol pool had kept me mobile but clearly not the same muscles! 😊
    Meanwhile, we have had some gloriously warm and sunny afternoons which I hope you have had too. Better late than never.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly is the wettest year in our experience here. I have to say, though, that the garden has enjoyed it, but it’s been difficult to keep up.

      I know several people who have pellet stoves. I understand, though, that they make a noise all the time. Do you find that?

      Thankfully, the weather has turned this week. Although the mornings are chilly, we’ve had some lovely afternoons. Just right for catching up with all the end-of-season gardening!

      I hope your sciatica is getting better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The pellet stove makes s noise blowing out the air but as we have only used it short periods, those chilly starts to the day, I haven’t been bothered by it. It’s the nasty blue lit screen on top that I dislike. Only a few square centimetres but bright blue! However,it doesn’t bother gismo loving ‘Mr McGregor. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the info. Our yoga teacher has one in the atelier, and it makes a noise when it delivers more pellets to the flames – non-technical explanation, but I think that’s what is happening! I think that has a blue lit screen as well. Looking into alternative heating methods.

          Like

        • We had to find an alternative to save Mr McGregor’s back and advancing years (he refuses all help!). Since replying to you I have listened closely. It is the fan that whirrs gently and the tinkling of pellets dropping every so often. With a radio/music playing you shouldn’t hear it. Actually I liked the sounds from our woodburner, the settling of logs, the creaking of the metal either warming up or cooling down and the soft whoosh of smoke up the chimney. Very comforting so I imagine this will be a companionable sound when I’m reading quietly in the kitchen (big enough for a big table, sofa and TV). You can get a rebate but we didn’t qualify so have flogged the replaced jotul! 😊

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for the additional info. I also like the sounds from our woodburner but had in mind that the pellet variety might be more mechanical. We have gas central heating and the woodburner in the living room. Gas is obviously a problem going forward, so we are wondering about installing a pellet burner downstairs in the kitchen. A lot to think about. No system is perfect…

          Like

  3. Vanessa,in the UK where I live in the East of England,this September has been glorious and alongside May have become my favourite months.The warm sunshine and beautiful light has been wonderful notwithstanding the shorter days but as you say,excellent walking climate.
    Well done on the log store,when I have been travelling in France( fast becoming a distant memory),I have never ceased to be impressed by the quality of the many log stores and wonder if there is sense of competitiveness in having the most neatly stacked pile?
    Best wishes to you and looking forward to more of your posts.
    Stuart

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Stuart. I believe the East of England is often dry, isn’t it? September here is normally one of the best months but, as you’ll see from the rainfall chart, we had nearly four times the average for September, including some absolute deluges.

      I’m sure people feel a sense of competitiveness about their wood piles. I just feel a sense of relief to have got it all in! It was certainly a daunting task. Much easier with two people.

      I hope you and yours are well.

      Like

  4. Here (in Montreal) we haven’t had enough rain all summer. And though we have had a bit more in September it isn’t nearly enough to compensate for the summer drought. Hopefully the rest of Fall will be nice for you and that winter won’t be too cold. (Suzanne)

    Like

    • I know that much of North America and Canada suffered a terrible heatwave and wildfires this summer. Here, it was quite the opposite, although further South in Europe they had wildfires too. Everything is upside down. I hope you’ll get more rain soon to compensate.

      Like

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