Sometimes it takes very little to change mood, outlook, morale. Sometimes just a few degrees of temperature will do it. Today was not just warm as a summer’s day, there was a sense of release, as if at last there was no more fear of getting cold, getting wet, or having the umbrella destroyed in a gale.
I don’t know whether it goes back to an ancestral fear of the ‘dark’ season, when nothing grows, when animals die of cold and hunger, and babies and old people give up the struggle to keep alive that keeps us tense and irritable as long as the bad weather lasts. The spring, the change in the air, the birdsong is a sign that the winter is coming to an end, though the season is fickle, and hail and snow showers can bring down the early buds, and nobody risks going out without a coat.
But, all of a sudden, there is a stillness in the morning air, a warmth that grows until it is too hot to sit in the sun. Suddenly the breeze is warm and full of the scent of flowers. Then we let out a long sigh of relief. We throw caution to the winds, and the windows open to the soft breeze. We set the table outside, and sit long into the evening with a glass of wine or cup of coffee listening to the birds.
The streets, the parks and the promenades fill with people simply marvelling at the blue sky and the green that is covering the dry winter twigs. The scent of cut grass and wisteria fill the air, and the chore of watering the garden plants begins. A taste of summer.
Today was like that.
This morning the weather was beautifully balmy, clear blue sky and the Garonne as smooth as glass. It was one of those days when I wished I’d brought the camera. I have seen the odd cormorant flying by the house, but this morning there was a small crowd watching one fishing quite close to the riverbank. According to one local it was stuffing itself with eels. They stay underwater for an incredibly long time, leaving no trace on the surface, no air bubbles or the slightest ripple. This one seemed completely oblivious of the admiring crowd.
A little further on we stopped to see what the gardeners were gathered round. One of them had uncovered the most enormous larva I ever want to see. It was easily 10cms long, as thick as a sausage, and a hideous corpse colour. It was the second of the beasts they had found since they started spreading mulch in the flower beds. They deposited it on the grass away from the flowers, where Finbar who is usually fascinated by crawlies gave it a wide berth.
Just before we turned for home, leaving the Garonne behind, I had my first sight this year of the returning wild geese. I’d heard them several times, but this was the first of the magnificent formations I’d seen across the open sky. This must have been several groups recently joined up, because there were three or four overlapping ‘V’ formations. They make such a tremendous, joyful noise; I know nothing more evocative of the coming spring.