I had been hoping for snow all Winter. The Perigord in the South had some, Paris had some, obviously the Alps had some but since we’ve been here at the Chateau, apart from the odd flurry of pretend snow which comes in the form of Slush Puppie that falls in an icy plop and isn’t nearly as romantic, we haven’t had a jot.
The Dear One assured me that this Winter would be cold and he was convinced we would snow. We had floods. As I mentioned in my last blog, we had water, water everywhere… and then at the beginning of the week, the sky grew heavy and the weatherman assured us we would have ‘les flocons’ and before you cover your mouth with your hand in utter disbelief of a possible swear word appearing on your screen, panic not – les flacons literally translates are ‘the flakes’…in this case…. the flakes of snow. Yes but how many I ask myself – are we just talking one or two icy flacons, numerous slush puppie ones or what? And more importantly, will the ground get cold enough for the flacons to land and stay long enough for a snowman?
Les Flacons fell….the ground was cold, les flacons settled. I was delighted. By morning les Flacons had disappeared altogether and all that was left was more mud. Once more the sky grew heavy and the weatherman said (and knew) nothing. The heavens opened and les Flacons fell. Silent, soft, they landed on the frozen ground and steadily formed a layer. By this time it was dark but I shone the torch out of the window numerous times during the night to see what was happening (I was too excited to sleep). At dawn I looked out of the window to see a pinky blue fairyland. A blush of sunrise against a white world layed in eighteen centimeters of bluish-white snow. It was breathtaking. The topiary trees in the formal gardens looked like giant peaks of soft-serve ice-cream twirling out of the ground. The statues were draped in snowy capes and the fountains sparkled, the water frozen and still. I couldn’t take it all in, a camera would never capture it.
Samuel the gardener eventually came to work along with the roofer. His assistant found it easy to come on a quad bike. There had been no warning and from Paris upwards toward the north of France had been plunged into chaos. With advanced warning, the roads would have been salted, provisions made, snow ploughs out. Nothing! The weatherman got into trouble for not seeing it coming and most Frenchmen did what frenchmen do best, shrug and enjoy the day and that’s just what we did.
All four of us went out to play.
First we took the dogs for a walk, then we got a crate, tied it to the tractor and had turns pulling each other around the field at high speed…or rather as fast as the tractor could go in the snow. It was great. I took a saucer of it up to Thumps who was still snuggled up under the bed. He sniffed it, wrinkled his nose, backed further under the bed, thoughts about it for a bit, came cautiously forward, sniffed, licked then rolled in the saucer and sprayed the snow everywhere. He must have enjoyed the first experience because about half an hour later, he came thumping downstairs and sat staring at the winter world through the doggie door. Tentatively he went out onto the grass, flicked each paw as he walked around and then began to run – charging around like crazy, rolling, kicking his little legs into the air and generally having a ball.
Spring came slowly after such a late, long wet Winter and then Summer arrived with a vengeance right in the middle of Spring. It was all very weird and none of the carefully planted veggies seem to want to grow – all a little too confused I’d imagine. Then much to my total horror – Thumps got out of his fenced garden. We had friends visiting and we all tried to herd him back to the house. He wasn’t having any of it. He was out to explore and explore he was going to do. It was quite interesting that he avoided the forest altogether (thank goodness) as that’s not his usual habitat in the wild but he stuck to the open grass, formal gardens and lawns of the chateau and systematically went over every centimeter…I ran like a mad woman to steer him away from the farm gate leading into the open fields – if he had got through – I think we would have lost him for sure. Anyway, after three hours of him exploring and me panicking, he wandered off the pool in search of water. We tried to catch him within the pool garden but he outsmarted us all – charged out of the gate with Tass the mutt in the lead – outran her and took himself back home with a flick of his tail, a last leap and twirl before pirouetting through the gate, into the house and under the bed.
I had a whisky.
Recently I’ve had reason to be surrounded by our own mortality, by people suffering on both sides of the coin – those with an illness and those who watch them suffer…both of them are difficult and tragic places to be. On both sides, people cope so very differently – some by talking, some withdraw, some giggle and try to make light of it all, some isolate themselves in self pity, some get angry…..each coping with their fear and grief of being so helpless against something that is probably going to win one way or another and on top of it all – we hurt each other in the mix.
It got me thinking about the way we live our lives with the people we love while we’re still ok or, if we’re fortunate enough, after the fear and sickness has past and we have another chance at continuing life.
We’re all so different, for example each of us enjoys reading a different blog, a particular gendre of book, tastes in food etc and how we cope with the stresses of life…? Is any of it actually wrong or is it just different? Do we have the right to judge or hold a grudge over the way someone has acted in the middle of a breakdown or fear or grief? I think of after it’s all over and we’ve been given a second chance and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all so fragile but of all the ways to cope with grief – talking – if you can – is the best way. That way, there can be no misunderstandings, no judging and no room for someone to fester and imagine all sorts of perceived intentions of wrongs…life is too short and too tragic to allow room for anything else other than understanding.
Imagine unknowingly being so involved with how you’re feeling that you end up pushing away or hurting the very people that are there though thick and thin…..
What are your thoughts?
On a more upbeat note…My Beloved husband found a Swift in a busy road, hunched near a drain in the boiling heat in the middle of a nearby town. We were on our way to a meeting so we decided he should take it home, give it some sugar water and put it in a cool place until we got home. After reading up on the Net, for the next few days we made sure it had plenty of rehydration fluids and then on the evening of the second day, he went out to find worms (a good source of protein) and I got out the flyswat to find some flies. This little bird was quite chilled, sat on the Dear Ones head while he watched the Football World Cup, and snuggled into his neck when he was tired. It ate it’s worms, drank it’s water and rested in a plastic cat box near a fan. Each day, it clung to us just that much more strongly and each morning, we walked outside to see what its decision was going to be. On the fourth day, it flapped its wings, tested them out, stretched them but stayed put. On the morning of the fifth day, it made its decision. After a good meal and a drink, it took off, soared higher and higher, dipped once or twice as if in salute and was gone. I stupidly wanted to cry…but what an amazing feeling to see it fly strong and free.
The Beloved has taken himself off for a bit of fishing and I think a cup of tea would be wonderful…so I’m off to put the kettle on.
Would love to hear from you – hope you’re all well, happy and finding positive things to enjoy in life and people.
A la prochaine