We strained our eyes and ears to the north east and finally, impossibly high up, we saw two thin, faint lines in the blue between the clouds. Gradually, as they came towards us, the lines became Vs and we heard their wild cries. The French for crane is grue, the latin for common crane, grus grus, and that is the distant sound they make, high above us, as they fly south.
They come from summer in Scandinavia and fly towards winter in Spain. We watched their passing with awe.
For the French here in the south, cranes are harbingers of colder weather and, despite their wild beauty, their arrival is not welcomed. It didn't seem a coincidence that two days later we woke to a temperature of 2°C and frost on the lawn.
These cold days the sunlight is almost unbearably bright and the air is crystal clear. It feels as if we could see every blade of grass as far as the Pyrenees.