Sunday, 2 October 2011

Time Out

It was a drowsy, glorious morning in JC's village as I set out for a walk. The guys had gone hunting again and I decided I didn’t have enough curiosity to repeat last weekend’s experience each Sunday; so I had a leisurely bath, dressed and left the house in shadow while I searched for the sunlight.

It’ s a year since I arrived in France and the weather is completely different. It’s hot, not freezing. It’s still, not windy. Here I was wandering down country roads and streets this autumn. It could have been peaceful with just the little birds twittering. It became a little less peaceful as I navigated a village street and a cock crowed on one side, followed by another the other side of the road. Then a dog barked, someone yelled at it. Two joggers scuffed by and a motorcyclist with a death-wish roared past.

Ah the countryside, I sighed, trying not to pay any attention to the shotgun blasts coming from all sides (hours later they were still firing). They are so loud. They were probably JC and his son. So many shots all morning reverberating around the village.

JC struck his hunter-gatherer pose as he cheerfully bounced out of the bedroom this morning, wearing his hunting gear and shotgun in his hand. A year ago I would never have considered myself having this experience. My imagination flew back three centuries as I pictured myself getting on with the day while the man went off searching for food because supermarkets weren’t invented. Of course the reality these days is so different and we don’t need to ‘sport’ our way to food as a hobby.

I love nature, the countryside, cottages and gardens and sometimes solitude. This was a morning to experience them all. ...A horse waiting for some attention...flocks of birds starting to prepare for migrations... brilliant berries and scarlet-leafed Virginia creeper... ancient orchards overburdened with apples of many varieties, a quince tree laden with golden fruit glinting like beacons...

...a pretty cottage with an old well...broken buildings, ugly houses built in the soulless second half of the twentieth century... hay awaiting winter...stone cottages from bygone ages... flowers putting out their last efforts before the cold death arrives... butterflies sucking on windfalls ... a Tigger-like squirrel with a brushy tail as big as his body inconsiderately eating all the walnuts and leaving the acorns (hasn't he heard about Ice Age the movie) who was bounding about in the conifer branches... a woman relaxing and reading outdoors.

I was rather surprised to find myself back at JC’s house. How did that happen? I’d crossed numerous streets, I’d circuited the main part of the village yet here I was, the compass pointed here. So I set off in the other direction but I didn’t get lost. The village is charming and there are some homes I’d love to live in. They certainly need their orchards looked after-so sad to see so much abandoned land full of nettles and sick trees, no love and appreciation and maintenance. I could transform them if i had the opportunity.

I arrived back at the house and took off my wet and grass-covered street shoes. The bodies of two dead pheasants were occupying a basket now and it was time to set to for a barbecue lunch. It was lovely dining outside and then relaxing in deck chairs. Well, it would have been almost Zen-like but for the gunshots. This is the countryside in autumn.


Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.