It has not really been a heatwave (une canicule, in French) in the same devastating sense as the other parts of the world have suffered this week, but it has been assez chaud, and particularly for the season. We have been going down to the cave each evening to keep cool until bedtime, and have even considered sleeping down there, where it is always a pleasant, if sepulchral, 16c.
While there has been no end to the local flitter of fans, questionable over-revealing sartorial choices, and complaining – the temperatures are all anyone has talked about for weeks – I have secretly loved it, all but one day of class in a fourth-floor attic space in the middle of a crowded larger town, which was too stiflingly hot even for me.
Otherwise it has made me nostalgic for the American South and feeling naturally moisturized and well-sweated. I love a hot day, as long as I don’t have to do manual work outside in it. And aside from minimal weeding and moving the sprinklers, I certainly have not. This weather was made for midday siestas in the shade: Any moving around needs to come before dawn or after dark.
As a result of the heat, we believe, the bargains at the village-wide annual yard sales (the much-anticipated vide greniers, of which one is pictured at Reyniès, just down river) have been unprecedented.
We two expats here are uniquely outfitted in this area with dramatic and very useful imported sombreros, which we wear without shame (as I said, if the French can get away with some of the moo-moos and stringy-strappy things which they are wearing at all ages, then surely I can wear a wide-brimmed hat!), and so we walk slowly, pacing ourselves, among the collapsed and panting bodies with impunity – moving tabernacles of shade in more than one sense.
Sunday week-ago we had to come home in the middle of the morning to unload the already-overfull stationwagon in order to fill it up again with more treasures. It seemed everyone was just too darn hot to negotiate. We took full advantage and it was our best day’s haul in years. We even bought a canoe!
And M has learned to give me congratulatory pecks on the cheek in the Southern Bro’ manner of yelling “Hats!” first, and then tilting both our necks extra-far sideways. I do love a hot day. Next I intend to teach him bawdy jokes about checking for ticks.
We’ve had the irrigation on non-stop, but the garden has been in crisis nevertheless. It’s interesting and a little creepy to watch the moles, bugs, snails, and their predators congregate so densely wherever there is water in a dry landscape. We are covered in bugs, as the photos attest. Even here along the river where water would seem plentiful, we have spawned whole communities just by creating artificial rain a few times a day.
The photos feature the usual seasonal swathes of dahlias, our recent foray into gladiolas, a view of the house from the opposite side of the river, my current infatuation with the microscopic, the artichokes gone to flower, the weekly flyover of the Airbus Beluga (just a tiny spec of white in the photo but in real life you can see it like a shining white airborn whale on its regular missions to Toulouse), and a touching moment in which our Marianne’s Phrygian bonnet was laid to dry in the sun after a good scrubbing, draped across the olive branches out front. If that is not an accidental metaphor for our times, I don’t know what is. Enjoy.