When I came back with Smudge from our walk yesterday evening there was a punnet of cherries on the veranda table. No message, just the cherries.
The cherries were gleaming, glossy red. I thanked whoever had left them and tucked in. Nothing like sweet cherries straight off the tree, with the warmth of the sun still in them.
I was round at friends for the evening and didn't get back until late, checked for messages on the phone and sure enough, there was Marion, saying they'd left the cherries. So I went to bed, resolved to call her this morning to thank her.
This morning, I walked Smudge first, before calling. Or at least attempted to. He was having a "I'm sitting here in the well of the car and not getting out because my back legs ache" sort of a morning. So I wandered around for a bit, taking some photos and hoping he might be enticed out, but no.
Driving back, as we approached the track down to our house, the car in front of us turned down it. Visitors! It was Marion and Colin, worried that they hadn't been able to get hold of me last night and wanting to make sure that all was well.
They live about half a mile away from us as the crow flies - perhaps double that to drive - over the brow of the hill behind us, in an old colombage house that they are renovating. We'd seen their non-French sounding surname on their letter-box as we walked the dogs past one day during the winter and wondered if they were English.
We finally met some weeks later and since then have seen each other once in a while. But we've each chosen to live in a part of France where we believe the English are thin on the ground and are not rushing to be part of an "English community".
Nevertheless, with Tod away in the UK, it felt good to have neighbours just over the hill who leave cherries and care enough to want to know I'm alright.