Morning light

I took some photos this morning, it was so still and warm. Amid the usual racket of thrushes, blackbirds, wood pigeons, nightingales, great tits and woodpeckers, (and the bactrian army) I could hear the first flutes of the golden orioles from the poplars and somewhere close the oop-oop-oop of the hoopoes. Everyone who is anyone has arrived. Spring can begin.

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Looking west and south.April192.jpg

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Looking into the sunrise and the pond where the bactrian orchestra practices.

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Poplars, hibiscus and the rose tree planted round about the time of the Great War.

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North side of the house where we ought to build a moat for drainage. One day…

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Bear’s garlic grows everywhere in the shade by the house. Like white blue bells…but the smell isn’t exactly the same.

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The meadow is full of blue flax flowers. Too much light to get the colour though.

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So much light

caught in petal bowls

bounced along blades of grass

fueling root and stalk

jungle of life.

 

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Bonjour tristesse

Photo ©Maddie.d.photography

800px-Beautiful_Glass_in_Notre_Dame

Last night we went to bed numb with shock. Not because of a human catastrophe with loss of life, but because of the loss of a monument, the heart of Paris, our Paris where we started our life together. Human tragedies draw on sympathy with the victims and their families. Grief is a sharp, stabbing pain because we are all human (whatever some people may tell us) and violent, untimely death is something we can all empathise with. Perhaps because it’s human, and we know death is waiting for all of us, the pain fades. We get compassion fatigue, there being only so much we can give to people who are after all complete strangers.

The loss of such a symbol, a jewel of Gothic architecture, the heart of Paris is different. It can never be replaced. We are all touched in the same way. There are no families who will take their grieving with them for decades to come, long after the rest of us have forgotten their personal tragedy. We, who have ever been parisiens or parisiennes, feel the loss of Notre Dame as the loss of a little part of ourselves.

For me, Notre Dame is fourteen years of my young adulthood, the place where I had my first job, where I was married. Four of my children were born at the Hôtel-Dieu whose rooms look across the river to the cathedral. I walked across the parvis twice a day, on my way to and from work, and when I was pregnant, a pew at the end of the nave by the main doors was a handy mid-point where I could have a sit down to get my breath back and watch the light falling in red and blue from those tiny pieces of heaven. One piece of good news is that, contrary to what was believed last night, the rose windows have survived, though the fear is for the fragility of the stonework holding them in place.

You don’t have to be a believer to be awed by the splendour of Gothic cathedrals, just an ordinary human being. Empty the building of the chattering hordes of tourists trooping around behind their guides and trooping out again, and we are left with jewel glass and soaring stone, vaulting too high to work out any detail, but we know it’s there, lovingly carved by some stonemason dead maybe eight hundred years since. Now, we are just left.

I cried last night. Time passes for flesh and blood, but stone and genius and beauty are supposed to last forever.

 

Sprung spring

First Sunday lunch outside this year. Hastily cleared away one lawnmower, one bicycle, a lot of plant pots waiting to have something done with the contents, and there we are, watching the pheasants of what turns out to be an established breeding colony (yay!) and their crazy aerial acts. I hesitate to call it flying…

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One hot dog getting a dose of sunshine.

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Spring flowers

It’s spring flower time. Photos taken over the last fortnight.

The blackthorn was the first to blossom.

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The daffodils have been in flower for a couple of weeks now.

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and the celandine

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This monumental stack of blue flower isn’t ceanothus but rosemary.

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The shade beneath the hedges is full of violets

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and the meadow is an ocean of deep blue muscari

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Farmland

Yesterday I walked up to the top of the south facing valley side to see how spring was progressing.

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The fruit trees are all in bloom, plum

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cherry, and the blackthorn. The smell is delicious.

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From the road that runs along the top of the ridge, you get a good view across the farmland that rolls back from the Garonne.

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Going back down, I tried to get a shot of the château on our side of the valley but there wasn’t enough sun. It often looks a bit sinister. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sun on it.

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Going down into our woods. The photo has stretched out the lane and made it look flat. It’s in fact quite steep…

our woods

I’ll put a few flowers in another post.

After the deluge

the flood waters recede. After three days of solid rain, it seems to have stopped. For the first of February, Imbolc, Brigid’s day, the sun has come back. I have seen butterflies, violet bees and the first speedwell and bugle flowers.

The ditch that runs from the field above down past our woodpile is a cascade.

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The first morning sun in months. Feels like that anyway.

 

brief sun

Between the ditch and the stream, the ground is under water.

 

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This ditch was too deep to wade through in rubber boots yesterday.

 

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It runs parallel with the stream, then bends left through the hedge to join the stream.

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This is where all the rain water ends up—in the Caillou and the culvert that carries it beneath the farm track.

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Rainy Sunday bliss

The organised pheasant shoot seemed to finish at lunchtime on Thursday and since then, there has been minimal activity from the men with guns. The animals have come out of hiding, though the caravan of refugee pheasants never really got into the spirit of keeping their heads down. The hare was lolloping around yesterday evening, the pheasants set up a din after lights out, and again around midnight meaning, yes, they were still there, and there was a prowler. I hope it was a fox.

There are a lot of fox turds around, and martens’ so they haven’t all been exterminated, and we see the squirrels about too. Our red squirrels seem to have black tails. Apparently this happens often in these parts. The deer are around at night, having been daily visitors until the pheasant massacre began. We know they come round at night because they are gradually eating our apple trees.

Trixie has been on a private massacre of her own. She has caught and eaten a flock of voles, but these last few days, she has been off her vole. Or rather field mouse, her latest discovery. The last ones she has just dumped in front of the house and gone for a lie down. Yesterday she caught something, brought it into the veranda and let it go. It ran and hid under the wellies and she couldn’t be bothered pursuing the matter and asked to go outside again. I caught the little critter, which was completely undamaged, and put it outside in the woodpile where the killer won’t find it. It was the loveliest little thing, a baby shrew, silky grey fur like a mole, and it blinked its eyes as though it wasn’t used to daylight.

This lunchtime, we witnessed a most touching display from a couple of pheasants. As if they know the hunters aren’t around at the moment they have been wandering around in the meadow and along the hedge. We saw a hen pheasant running in a distracted sort of way along the hedge, stopping every few yards to peer about, looking for something/someone. Then the object of her desire came running across the meadow (pheasants only seem to fly as a last resort) and they were reunited. The hen leapt into the air and bounced about in delight (literally) like a flighty fifteen year-old. He rubbed himself against her when she stayed still long enough. And we think only human beings have those kind of reactions.

rain falls from low cloud

the air is green, winter waits

the earth is busy.