Wednesday, 20 April 2022

"April is the Cruellest Month"

 Maybe not every year, but certainly this year April has flung everything at us - frost, high winds, drought and now rain.

Mind you, after the drought the last one is very welcome.  But the first three have been cruel to gardens and the farms and vineyards around.

Up in the Gironde at the beginning of the month they were burning fires through the night to try and save this year's grapes. The photos are beautiful - until one sees the stress in the faces of the vignerons.

For the first time in the fourteen springs we have been here our wisteria has been badly scorched - its pendulous flowers were beautifully in bud one day and the next, they had become thin brown tassels.

Roses just coming into new growth, their plump young stems and baby leaves a ruby red, are now curled over and brown.

Some trees and shrubs have sailed through all this and are virtually in full leaf.  Others are still bare stemmed, early buds burnt to a crisp.  There is sometimes a faint glimmer of new growth.

After soaking with the big water canons last week, Monsieur F's dormant corn has suddenly burst into life - rows of two-inch green shoots now above the baked earth.  The seedlings are lapping up last night's steady rain. Our water butts are full and there is some hope the underground tank may see us through summer this year after all.  

Fingers crossed that the bushes which are still bare and the damaged roses finally recover.  

Monday, 11 April 2022

"Interesting Times"

The French have voted for their next president - well, round one anyway.  

Within minutes almost of the polls closing small communes are already posting their results - perhaps not surprisingly when only a few hundred ballot papers are in the box.  And there it is for all the world to see. Forty percent of our neighbours voted for Marine Le Pen.  We knew they were right wing, but not to that extent!

Rural farming areas, aging populations, cautious and conservative, inward-looking, such communities see little of merit in Macron and these days have no interest in socialism and, whilst her father's extremism was unpalatable, Marine in recent years has mellowed her messages and has made herself acceptable.

Across the country as a whole Macron has the lead - just.  Last time, the second round of voting was easy for him.  This time, probably, not so much.  Le Pen has a real chance, especially if the socialists hold their noses and vote for her, in preference to Macron. She may be the lesser of two evils. 

We are in for an interesting two weeks.  And possibly beyond ...