Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer’s end

Before supper this evening DH and I were sitting at our somewhat shabby garden table on the grass in front of the house, enjoying a drink and the slightly hazy sunshine. The grass (or rather the mixture of grass, clover and plantain, which normally passes for a lawn in our part of Normandy) was newly-mown after my exertions earlier in the afternoon, and we were enjoying its scent and the sound of the birds. A lovely summer’s evening after the damp and even thundery evenings we have had recently and one of the last we have to enjoy before our return to the UK next week.

Yet it doesn’t really seem like summer any more. I know it’s still August, but somehow it feels as though autumn has come early this year, just as spring did. The grass around the cherry trees is already patterned with early-fallen leaves and the espaliered pear tree on the front wall of the house is laden with more and bigger pears than we have ever seen on it. Granted they are rock-hard and only edible after long simmering, but they are so large that they are starting to fall already, as are the apples, both eating and cider. Just like the grape harvest further south, the apple harvest is early this year and it is a bumper one. Suddenly autumn tasks are invading the last days of summer.

As I was making the soup for supper, I looked out of our north-west-facing kitchen window and realised that the sun was setting behind the apple tree to the left, rather than over the field ahead, a sure sign of the days drawing in. So summer is ending and what a varied summer it has been.  

A summer of a lot more rain and a lot less sun than we would have wished, yet the result is a bigger crop of fruit than I can ever remember seeing.  A summer of visitors, whose visits, luckily for them, coincided with the best of our weather.  A summer of quiet, rainy days at home with just the two of us, interspersed with strenuous bursts of activity in the garden when the weather allowed.

A summer of catching up with friends whom we only see here, of weekly meetings of the local craft group, where I’ve done a lot of chatting and even a fair amount of knitting. A summer of watching our litter of feral kittens grow and become more adventurous and self-reliant and gradually a little less wary of us. A summer in Normandy, like and yet unlike the ones which have preceded it.

And now, like the swallows, we are preparing to depart, though in our case we’ll be heading north, not south. Tomorrow, before the rain returns later in the week, we’ll be picking apples to take home with us, apples which will see us through the winter. Then will come the packing and the goodbyes and the tugging up of the little roots which we always manage to put down during each of our summers here. This time next week we will be back in Wales, sorry to leave Normandy, yet glad to be home again for a while, before setting off on the next episode in our peripatetic retirement. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Gosh – August already!

Help, where has July gone? Life has been so busy lately, what with gardening (between the downpours) visitors, our local fĂȘte communale last weekend (for which the sun shone!!) and now having Grandson#3 to stay for a week all by himself for the first time, that time for blogging, or even just reading my favourite blogs, is practically non-existent. So while he is happily chortling at Wallace and Gromit with DH, here is a quick sign of life from the Transit household and a promise to catch up with you all as soon as time permits.

For the cat-lovers out there I’m happy to be able to report that all four kittens are well and growing rapidly, though we very rarely see them all together and sometimes don’t see any of them for days. We were extremely surprised and relieved when the tortoiseshell kitten reappeared after so long. She has turned into a real beauty, with striking, black-rimmed eyes reminiscent of a silent film star at her most sultry (eat your heart out, Theda Bara…) but, like her siblings, is still ready to turn tail and hide if we come too near.

For art-lovers I have other news, and that is that we now have two lovely small watercolour paintings of our French house and the kittens’ woodshed, thanks to my next-to-youngest sister, who came with her husband on a visit over the fĂȘte weekend. On their last afternoon she sat out in the garden with her paints to capture her vision of them, which I’d like to share with you. So, until next time, here is our small corner of Normandy as seen through the eye of an artist.  If you look carefully, you may even see the kittens. J