Surprise

I needed some thyme for the salad this lunchtime and thought I’d snip some from the bush in the ground rather than from the  pots. I found an entire black and green whipsnake skin wound around the thyme, behind the pots and disappearing into a crack in the wall. I pulled it all out—exactly four feet of sloughed snake skin.

I suspected a whipsnake lives under the house, having seen one zipping under the walls several times, and while I was measuring the skin, one of its children popped out to have a look, so I guess I was right.

The old editor posts tiny pics…

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Herb garden

My garden is essentially herbs. There are always geraniums and roses, but until we find a way of breaking up the soil, the ‘garden’ will remain essentially herbs, mainly in pots, a few tentative attempts in the soil.

We had a similar problem with soil in Bordeaux in that the house had belonged to a painter (and decorator) and the soil was saturated with chemicals and broken glass as well as a pets’ graveyard. Very little (and no herbs) would grow in it. At least here, once we manage to get stuff into the ground, it thrives.

In front of the sorrel is a pot of something I can’t name, like chives but with flat leaves.

chives oseille

 

Rhubarb, basil, bay and a feeble specimen of parsley (and Trixie doing her claws on something).

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Hyssop and sage.

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Parsley, thyme and origano.

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Rosemary and honeysuckle and more sage.

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Different types of sarriette and rosemary.

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Sarriette and a sage cutting planted in the ground.

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More thyme and honeysuckle.

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One of the two intensive care units.

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We eat nasturtium leaves in salads.

nasturtiulums

 

and the chives that are everywhere and I forgot to photograph….

 

 

More flowers

I took some pictures this morning before the sun got too hot and the Morning Glories closed up. The white speckling on the petals is pollen—I missed the bee. The photos come up well in this huge format.

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Morning glories and hollyhocks

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Pommier d’amour

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Nasturtiums

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Passionflower

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Geraniums

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We bought a half a dozen different roses at the supermarket for next to nothing. None of them have been remotely like what’s described on the label, but they are all lovely.

 

Rose.jpg

 

And the fig tree that was growing too close to the house, destroyed, dug up, hacked back last year and this spring, will not give in. The shoots have produced a lot of figs so we’ll give it a reprieve, at least until the fruit is ripe.

Unwanted fig

A walk around the house widdershins

We walk through the porch and turn widdershins, north, and into the shade, past the barn door where tomatoes have set themselves in the compost around the hydrangea, frazzled by the morning sun,

 

Tomatoe plants

and the well with its old hand pump, water deep, four, five metres now from lack of rain, festooned in ivy and wild irises.

well

Left, along the north-facing wall, the old barn, window below and shutter on the hayloft above,

 

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and what was once the main door, stuck fast now and patched at the bottom with tin and old planks.

 

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Turning south, along the west-facing wall, the passionflower, transplanted from Bordeaux, mown down twice, a stem recovered (twice), rooted and replanted (twice). This stuff is indestructible.

 

passiflore.jpg

Left again, along the south-facing wall, beneath the study window, like the Gobi Desert. Hollyhocks are hanging on, and the roses planted this year with two cutting of the old vine. Morning glories thrive, but bloom only in the morning.

 

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Hibiscus grows everywhere here, great luxuriant bushes.

hibiscus.jpg

Another vine cutting, happy that the sun has moved around, and nasturtiums that will grow anywhere.

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Even the sun-loving plumbago has bleached in the fierce sun this year. From delicate sky blue, they have turned almost white.

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A sad cutting of honeysuckle brought from Bordeaux shot into life here and rambles everywhere. A small pot of sage bought on the market is a huge bush now.

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Back into the porch where geraniums, basil, bay cuttings and hydrangeas sit in the shade and watch the evening sun bake the meadow grass.

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Time to water it all now.

A Summer Day

The tobacco growing and drying activity declined in southwest France throughout the post war period, and in the small town where I live, it died altogether at the end of the 1990s. Since then, the (main) activity has centred on the grain silo. Not exactly throbbing industrial heartland, but at this time of year, it’s busy.

Germillac

Grain silos aren’t very inspiring buildings, which is perhaps why the site was chosen to host a weekend of graffiti jamming, entitled A Summer Day. We went down to look at it this morning and the graffers were finishing the silos and starting on the (rather run-down) school sports complex opposite. Giant comic book hulks, rats and robots isn’t my thing. It’s an exclusively male activity, and the results are, well, what you’d expect, but it adds a bit (a lot) of colour to a group of industrial buildings.

Maybe next year they will invite different graffers to get a more diverse palette, hyper-realists, trompe l’oeil, the more ‘artistic’ styles of street art. We might even see a few female graffers and we might be able to give Hulk a rest too.

SD1

SD2

SD4

Mise en abyme.

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SD8

 

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Hay raking

 

The hay is raked in the west meadow waiting for the baler to arrive this evening. 40°C in the shade; it should dry out quickly.

hay raked3.jpg

hot air whines with

insect wings and the pounding

pulse in my ears

throbs with each solar flare flash

each belch of fiery magma

 

There is still about an acre of bottom land uncut, too irregular for a tractor and full of ditches and willow trees.

bottoms4.jpg

green air brushed

with fox tails and meadow grass

hangs still and frog-cool

in cricket silence

trickle of birdsong

Room with a view

Lately, the weather has been wind, rain, storm, sun, repeat. From my desk, in the angle between two windows, I see the changing sky and how the wind and rain set the air in motion. Each evening, the wind drops, the sun comes out and I can hear the birds rather than the wind sighing. Straight ahead, I look west.

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and over my left shoulder, I look out of the south-facing window.

 

from south window

and if I go to the south window and look right, this is what I see.

 

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The sky and the trees are in constant movement, but I love the peace that falls at the end of the day.

 

calm as a still lake

at dusk when swans roost and

only nightingales

make the air tremble with

their ceaseless song