Brittany is beautiful at the moment.
I’m not one for high temperatures but the days have been bouncing around between about 26 and 32 degrees. Yes, it’s been REALLY hot some days but the thunder rolls in (much to Tass’s disgust) and a brief shower lowers the temperature a bit but it’s still pretty humid. The next day is always a bit cooler, the sky a brilliant blue and the whitest clouds imaginable.
As you know, we’re surrounded by fields and for the past few weeks, we’ve been able to – and I kid you not – hear the wheat and corn growing! Every morning when I look out of the window as I do the dishes, I swear everything has shot up a few centimeters overnight. I could break into song as sung in Oklahoma – “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye…la de dah de dah..” but the Dear One has been known to smirk when I sing so I won’t…I’ll just tell you that the corn is very tall now and flowering beautifully. BUT – the thing that is SO beautiful is the wheat fields (although I’m not too sure if it’s barley – could be – they apparently look very similar and surprisingly the French don’t know either). They have been steadily ripening and wherever you look, there countryside with patches of brilliant gold.
There’s something so almost comforting about walking through the fields at dusk with your best friend and two mutts and picking a head of wheat, rolling it in your hands, blowing off the husks and eating the soft sweet kernels. It tastes a bit like eating wholewheat bread and ..mm..let me think…..porridge? Delicious. Thy’re harvesting it now and with the grain gone and the stubble rolled into giant rounds of hay, one could almost be right in the middle of one of Constables paintings.
I stopped to watch the butterflies in the hedgerows the other day..in fact, the whole of the hedgerow seem to come alive right under my nose as I stood there. I counted about 5 different colours of butterfly, three different kinds of bee ranging from small to humongous and a host of other busy things and then for the first time in my life, I saw ripening blackberries. They’re beautiful. A little art form in themselves, perfectly formed, shiny black and red bobbly berries. As for the warm cherries dangling tantalizingly off the trees by the roadside…I had to stop myself from stuffing them into my mouth by the handful….well what can I say…I’m clearly more of a piggy than I thought!
And then there’s our veg patch. Small but now pretty jam packed. When the corn was still very small, we had a huge dollop of rain that caused a slight mudslide at the end of the road. Some small corn plants came down too so they landed up in our veg patch where they have been lovingly cared for after their ordeal. After all, we couldn’t just leave them there!
Their companions are aubergines, chillies, red peppers, parsnips, gherkins, tomatoes, Hubbard squash and lettuce. The latter seem to have gone a little wild. I dished out lettuce to every person that came, from the neighbouring farmer to the electrician. We ate lettuce till it was coming out of our ears and I’m sure some friends stayed away just in case our eyes lit up with joy at seeing them, not because of their visit, but because it was someone who we could ply with great quantities of lettuce! As for the Hubbard….the husband feels a bit threatened when he walks past it – it has that “look ” about it, straight out of a bad horror movie where it reaches out with it’s little green tendrils and before you know it, you’ve been eaten by a giant yellow flower! Plus he can’t mow the lawn properly as it’s escaped out of it’s raised bed and is reaching out in all directions over the fields. We had a ceremonial reaping of the first brilliant orange squash and when I last looked, there were at least another eight of similar size…neighbours and friends beware….
Talking about mowing the grass….”Monty” is the Dear Ones best friend. A robust sit-on bright red beast that rolls across the fields with gay abandon and reduces the grass to a neat, smart lawn. BUT, he has issues. The grass cuttings don’t shoot out behind or underneath, nor are they caught neatly into a bin..no, they shoot out of a chimney like funnel at about shoulder height of the driver. It doesn’t go down well when the Not-SO-Dear-One, arrives fresh from the barn with MP3 player (which renders him deaf) , then earphones (which renders him even deafer) and jauntily comes onto the field while you’re thinning out parsnips and digging out weeds; waves merrily and starts to cut the field in long stripes. You stand up to wave as he comes towards you, You smile sweetly as he turns the steering wheel with great panache and then you are covered from head to toe and left spluttering while fresh green, slightly wet grass confetti rains down on you from above, goes into your hair, into your mouth and down your garden jumpsuit where it settles and begins to itch. You yell, you shriek, you end up doing the highland fling with the itch and you watch the back of Monty and his rider sailing off into the distance, head bobbing in time to the beat.
There is nothing to say…once again…you go inside and make tea.
Our very nice french neighbour, who now works in Morocco, took us out for dinner the other night when he was back in the area to thank the Beloved for cutting his lawn (with Monty) while he was away. He owns a smart silver Mercedes convertible. It was a warm evening and I decided to wear my hair up. My hair is very seldom if ever what you would call “neat”, it’s always a wavy mess of curls whether it’s up or down but that day, I had got it “just right” and it looked pretty good. The husband and French pal had decided to leave the roof of the car down and we would travel the 5 km to the restaurant in glorious fresh warm air. Now these cars are very cleverly designed. They are built in such a way that air flows over the windscreen and over the heads of the driver and passenger. Cool Beans!! Where was I and my beautifully neat coiffured head? You got it..in the back seat….in the war zone where the air, that has gracefully sailed over to short haircuts, falls into a stormy vortex of a swirling hurricane.
I got out of the car with the skin of my face rearranged by the breeze and my hair standing straight up. I told the men I would meet them outside on the terrace and headed for the bathroom. The restaurant was packed..and where was the bathroom? Right at the back.
I regally walked, head held high, (hair even higher) daring anyone to even think of staring. Hair re-done I headed out for a wonderful evening on a vine filled terrace with delicious food and wine.
I didn’t care that I repeated the process on the way home.
Yup, France in the Summer – despite the mass of visitors, is a very beautiful, very fertile place.
A la prochaine