Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spring Forward

After a week of endless sunshine, we put the clocks forward last night and we've woken to a rain-pouring, grey cold day.

We've friends coming to lunch and we decided it would be a good moment to have the meal up at the house.  We'd imagined lounging on the veranda, replete, in the late afternoon sun.  So we've been tidying the garden in their honour - mowing, weeding, strimming the edges. Now we're going to be huddling indoors in front of the Godin stove in the lounge and I have wellington-booted, back of the neck dripping journeys to make backwards and forwards between house and cottage. I must go up there now and turn on the radiators to take the chill off the dining room and lounge.

Ah well!  We need the rain.  I met Monsieur et Madame M. (he who sells us his wood) in Leclercs earlier in the week and they were shaking their heads at the weather, saying it was too warm and too dry.  It will be good for the new grass we've seeded and the young bushes and trees we've planted.  Just a shame that our guests won't be seeing them.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Slow Gardening

The sun has long disappeared behind the ridge of Monsieur F's field, but by the pale blue of the evening sky I can still see enough to tug at the brittle dry stems of fat hen and heave out yet more builders' rubble from the edge of the cottage lawn.

Here is where I want to make a "hot" border: yellows and deep oranges and clashing reds; dogwoods dug up from elsewhere in the garden and transplanted to add structure between the scattered seeds of achillea, marigolds, echinacea, dark poppies and hollyhocks and golden sunflowers to echo those planted in distant fields.

Vita stands on the edge of the bank, nose to the ground waiting for the scurrying of small rodents.  When bored she comes offering to dig where I am working.

In my mind's eye I can see the border finished, full of colour in the heat of a late summer's afternoon.  For now though, it's just Vita and I on a muddy weed-covered bank in the fading light of a spring evening.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Here's Some I took Earlier

The weather's gone cold and wet again.  So a reminder of some previous Spring days ...

Monday, 7 March 2011

The weather gods have smiled ...

... and the chill first few days of March have been replaced by clear blue skies.

We garden, make a bonfire, sit on the terrace beside the cottage and soak up the warmth.

I open up the shutters of the house and throw wide the French windows of the lounge to let sun-filled air seep into its dark, dank interior.

Yesterday afternoon, engrossed in making a flower bed behind the pool house Eric built last spring, digging out the dandelions and couch grass tucked between the stems of the hydrangeas I planted in the autumn, I hear their distant cry.  Way to the south, too far and too high to see clearly, I can just make out a hint of smoke grey moving against the grey-blue sky - cranes!

Wave after wave of them over two hours.  Moving north and east in the late afternoon sun.

And then, finally, one group comes out of the west, high above our fields. They find a thermal and for ten minutes we watch their ballet, as, calling to each other, they wheel and turn, climbing higher and higher on the warm air before heading away towards the north again.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The beginning of March ....

... always has a bite to it.

In February we're lulled into a false sense that spring has sprung. Then suddenly the bright sunny days disappear, the wind picks up and we huddle back indoors.

Sixty thousand cranes set off from Spain this morning and I'd hoped to see some of them passing us this afternoon, but the clouds are too low and there's a leaden dull look not just to the sky but to the whole countryside.

No French lesson this afternoon and little reason to be outside, but feeling stuffy from too much time in front of the computer I dragged myself out and met bemused men in dayglow jackets wandering around our drive.  From the electricity board, they were forlornly looking for ways to get their truck and equipment across our field to the pylon in the middle of the field beyond.  I got all the French practice I needed as we discussed ditches and slopes and bridges and whether they could get along the bottom of Monsieur F's field (non).

I watched somewhat nervously as they all piled into the back of the truck and launched it at the muddy, weedy patch that one day we will call our "park". Keeping to the edge by Serge's land they skirted the bottom between the newly planted baby hedge (which is doing well, lots of tiny buds appearing) and the ditch.  Then taking a sharp left off our field the truck heaved up over the grassy bridge crossing the ditch and lumbered down the grass verge of the next field towards the pylon.

After much shouted discussion, two clambered the metal frame disappearing up into the late afternoon gloom.  In the sharp north wind, it must have been cold at the top.  It was pretty chilly down on the ground watching them. And no sign of the cranes.  So I came back indoors.