7 September 2008

What a Difference a Week Can Make

This time last week we had to have a fan in the bedroom at night because of the oppressive heat. I was having to water the garden constantly and on Saturday afternoon Ashley, my BT mate and I sat and watched the airborne fire fighters put out a forest fire across the valley caused by the tinderbox conditions. The pool was a lovely 26-27 degrees and the night skies were crystal clear. Seven days later we’ve had a downpour of biblical proportions, the heat has been replaced by a pleasant daytime temperature with cool evenings and Shadow has started sleeping in his bed again. The pool has dropped to a refreshing 24 degrees and the night sky glows in the west, providing a magical kaleidascope of colours as it heads off over the hills behind Gourdon. The last few days have seen the clouds start to gather in the valley and we get up in the morning thinking we are in the Himalayas (see photo).

What does this mean ? It means that autumn is around the corner or it could even have arrived already. My two favourite seasons down here are autumn and spring. I don’t actually think we have a Winter. We get some cold, wet days, maybe two days of snow if we’re unlucky but on the whole, my view is we go from autumn straight into spring.

Autumn means several things in our household. Firstly, the kids go back to school (yippee) which means I can watch Desperate Housewives in the afternoon without battling with Kitty who invariably wants to watch some American trash. Oops – just realised – Desperate Housewives is American trash ! The garden needs less watering and I have to start getting logs collected for the fire which, this year should not be too onerous as I cut down some large trees last winter and all I have to do now is cut them to length and get them up the hill.  Autumn also means that the patio doors are not open 24 hours a day like they are in summer so wandering about the house is not so simple and we actually have to put lights on in the evenings which we don’t  normally do during the summer months. It means that the roads start to empty of those maddeningly frustrating tourist cars who travel at 20 km/hour and then stop in the middle of the road to (a) take pictures and (b) work out whether to park in the village centre or the car park at the school which requires a bit of a walk. It means that I can have lunch in the Midi without having to be there at 11.30am so that I can get a table. It means that I can get my Levis out again and ride on my scooter without thinking that I am travelling through a giant sauna.

I suppose some people reading this might think I am a bit ungrateful for the summer climate we benefit from, especially those poor souls in the UK whose weather appears to be getting worse and more unpredictable as each year passes. I am not – it’s just that life here has to adjust with the seasons. It’s virtually impossible to do any gardening from June until September because of the heat and the poor animals just loll around, totally lethargic, trying to find the coolest place in the house. Leave food out for more than a few hours and it has an inch of mould on it and cars are unbearably hot, sometimes even when the AC is on full.

So this week I managed to get back out in the garden to find out what the heat has killed. I also noticed it was getting cool enough when riding my scooter that I may soon have to get my fleeces out and I keep having to adjust the timers on the lights so we’re not wandering about the house in darkness. It also means however that the hunters are out (I’m sure I heard some shots this morning) and this means that walks in the woods are a complete non-no. French hunters kill almost as many of their colleagues on a hunt as they do deer or boars. It means that I worry about Shadow if he disappears off on one of his occasional walks cause these idiots with guns shoot anything that moves hence the high death rate amongst chasseurs (hunters). 

So, all in all we've had a wonderful, slightly too-hot summer but we could have done with a bit more rain. Let's hope autumn is cooler and wetter. Bet you never thought you'd hear a Brit say that - eh? 

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