Well – it certainly has! The start of the season was very quiet and we could get on with a whole lot of tasks that needed to be done – new flower beds, deadheading, taking cuttings, and attempting to finish my last course of acupressure which, for some reason, I’m finding really difficult so the temptation to always find something else to do has been given in to on many occasions…
Ever since Thumps got out of the garden and went on a four hour ‘promenade’ around the chateau grounds I’ve been a bit paranoid about closing gates…and he’s been a bit on the ball and wily as to how to get out! Madame Post came the other day and tooted just outside the front door (more on-line shopping – it’s wonderful, like receiving a gift – even though I paid for it! – and SO exciting to see what, from my many shopping sprees – has arrived… anything from seeds, art materials, aromatherapy oil or carob pods for Thumps). Anyway, Ted charged to the door and as I opened it, Tass came hurtling down the stairs as well. Now this was mid-morning and Thumps usually sleeps under the bed upstairs for the day unless he’s in his outside spot under his favourite bush, but that’s rare and usually only if I’m using the vacuum cleaner.
I took two steps outside, greeted Madame Post (not her real name) took the parcel, asked how her holiday was and turned back to to the door and there at the bottom of the stairs, eyeing the open door was shy, timid, scared-of-everything-new Thumps. My crazy hare had found some bravery and was hoping for a fast exit for more exploring. I never thought a hare could learn, but he does. And here’s another weird thing… how DOES he know what’s in season? Every second day or so, I have to go down the road, greeting the farmers and neighbours as I go, to get fresh dandelions and other wild leafy things for him to eat (he doesn’t eat lettuce or carrots or anything that a domestic rabbit would eat). On these days, I still get asked when we’re going to eat him and what he would ‘go’ best with – shallots or mustard, red wine or cider. I laugh, shake my head and have given up explaining that he’s our friend and pet. I also try and find something new for him to try – a new leaf, weed, flower – and each time I come upstairs, he seems to know and wait and sniff each presented new morsel and then either tastes it or shakes his head in disgust. But then he’ll suddenly stop eating anything I pick and he nuzzles my hand for something else… searching, looking, following me…. it’s taken a while to learn to ‘speak hare’ but now I understand.
The green wheat in the fields had ripened in the hot summer sun. All over the countryside, patches of gold waved in the breeze. I went through the chateau hedge and into one such field and picked a few ripened heads.
‘YES!’ said my hare, ‘THAT’S what I need’ Well done!’ And that’s all he would eat for as long as the wheat fields remained. Then came the day when the farmer arrived with his large harvesting machine and within an hour or two, the field was clear. I ‘gleaned’ the sides where a few stalks remained for a week or two before the field was ploughed and compost spread for the next crop.
But then all of a sudden, Thumps started to search again and the few heads of wheat I still had went untouched. Now what? I walked (as he still did eat the odd dandelion as long as it was very young and fresh – hard to find in the boiling sun of a particularly hot summer) and looked…oh – the corn was ripening. I went to the pet shop and bought him some dry corn still on the cob.
‘Oh Yes!’ came the reply. ‘You ARE getting clever!’
I think sunflowers are next…. How does he know? He was only out in the wild for a day and only weighed 80 grams at the time…so very clever.
We had a group of visitors that wanted breakfast, a packed lunch (fortunately just on the one day – the other days were ‘help-yourself-from-the-fridge) and dinner (4 courses) every evening. The weather was glorious for them – if not a little too hot…but for me in the kitchen and especially with the desserts – it was nothing short of a nightmare. I stupidly decided to make a Paris-Brest. A delicious but complicated dessert that was the ‘taste of France’ that was called for during the week. This recipe has a million steps and the day happened to be the hottest – nearing 40 degrees which is unheard of in Normandy. But this fact, I wasn’t to know until later in the day and I started the process with great enthusiasm and cheerful gusto.
Step 1: tra- lah- lah..mm..mmmmm. la de dah
Step 2: tra- lah- lah..mm..mmmmm. la de dah
Step 3: tra- lah- lah..mm..mmmmm. la de dah
Step 4: tra- lah- lah..mm..mmmmm. ..
Step 5: tra- lah- lah..mm..mm shew….warm
Step 6: tra- lah- ………………what the?
Step 7: …………..why won’t this creme patissiere thicken?
Step 8: STOP SLIDING OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the Dear One walks in……………(poor unsuspecting man…)
Step 9: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Step 10: I vaguely hear him telling me not to panic from my prone position on the floor – surrounded by a puddle of creme pat and sticky praline……….
Step 11: after a shower, a few needed tissues, a red nose, a change of clothing, the thing was put together and shoved in the fridge.
Step 12: Note to self – make Paris-Brest in the Autumn, Winter or Spring… NEVER in the Summer!
Anyway, the by the time the week was over, the Dear One and I were absolutely finished. We seemed to have washed dishes and glasses till they came out of our ears, laid and relaid endless tables and peeled and prepared mounds of veggies. I vowed never again, I swore I hated my life, and yet somehow, I know next year will be another year and it will be done again…maybe without the Paris-Brest!
There’s an Autumn feel in the air – the time and the year seems to have passed so quickly…it feel like only yesterday when it was snowing. Out of desperation with my French (or rather the inability to string a fairly large vocabulary into some sort of coherent sentence made up of correct grammar) a friend has offered to give me proper lessons…
I feel for her… I start on Monday…. should be interesting…. I’ll let you know how it goes…
A la prochain et bisous