It has been a long summer. I suppose for most people it would be the same, especially if they have gardens and vegetable plots to look after. We haven't done well by our flowers and veggies this year though. They have not been exactly neglected but there has not been the time to look after them properly, what with my time being syphoned away out into the fields with my scythe, and Hubs having to spend many hours working on his computer and looking after the animals. I saw the tomato plants this evening. They are giving us tomatoes, but by crikey they looked very tired and sicky plants, for which I am sorry. They really should have been cared for better. I should have respected them more.
One of the problems we hit was the fact that we could not pump water from the river like we did last year because the brambles between us and the river had gone berserk with growth during the wet spring, and neither of us had the time to get them cut down. For a while the pond had water in it, but that dried up eventually. I have watered from the mains but the pigs require an awful lot of water so they had top priority. Since we are metered, I did not felt I had to use the water sparingly when I did have the time to water the veg. But the veggies have grown, just about, bless them, and we are getting a harvest in, albeit a smaller one than we should have.
So it came to yesterday evening. Jean Pierre, our builder, had just left. He had brought in the quotes for more work in the house: the last two ceilings, the stairs, the two mezzanines either side of the stairs. Do we go ahead or do we stop? Finances are sticky again if we go ahead, but then they have been since we arrived here.
We were sitting outside, enjoying the last of the day. No midges and mozzies about. We sat. Tired. A bit exhausted with it all, as most gardeners and / or renovators would be from time to time. And then a bird flew over our heads. More came in, swooping, diving, zinging with life. We became captured by their energy. More and more came until there were many. Up high, oh so high they flew, to ride the thermals, to give their wings a rest.
It is that time of the year again, when the summer birds of Europe start on their very long way south, down into the middle of Africa. Over the Alps they will go. It is a long way. And I write about this every year, because I am in awe of these little beings who have to fly such a long way on such small wings.
We feel very privileged to be on the flight paths of emigrating birds, the first visitors being the swifts. It reminds us that life is an effort sometimes but that one has to carry on carrying on no matter what species of animals or insects one is.
And may I take the moment to publicly apologise to the ants whose homes I have decapitated out in the field I am currently scything. It is getting late in the season now, and soon I shall have to stop work there (whooppeeee!), but for the moment I carry on. Swish, and swish, and swish the scythe goes, cutting down most of what is presented to the blade, if the blade is sharp enough, if I have put enough effort into honing it.
So I trundle along, cutting all, including the roofs of quite a few ant hills, un noticed until the deed is done. At least the weather is calm at the moment. At least they can get their roofs back on before the rains come. I think I am aware of their disaster of being roofless because we have been roofless as well. And also apologies to the possible legless huge grasshopper. Unsure as to whether I had decapitated its legs I left it to waddle up a piece of grass, hoping that perhaps the sun would warm it up and get it moving, hoping that somehow it would become well again. Well I had been scything for over an hour and my sugar levels were starting to drop, which is a disastrous time for strange thinkings. Absent legs are not going to suddenly magic themselves into existence again are they!
When I am out working on the field I have taken to making a camp, just a little one, just a place I can put my things, like my bottle of water, my jumper, my scarf, my hat, my fingerless gloves, my sweeties, my chair, my hay rake, my scythe. When sugar levels are dropping I can then sit on the chair, and have a rest for a while whilst munching on a sweet. Or two. I don't take my knitting though. That would be too silly.
Anyway, as we sat and watched those wonderfully brave swifts, whose lives are so short but who are valiant in embarking on their long journey southward over the Pyrenees, our spirits lifted up. The various clouds became tinged with the pink of the setting sun. It was magic. Sometimes, just sometimes, one has to stop and have a look at what is around you. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is sensible to count one's blessings, which then gives one the energy to set foot on the next journey of one's life, even if it is having a new staircase and ceilings put in what once was a ruin of a house.
Oh so what was that horrid sound which happened early this morning, which even had some magpies, who had been sunbathing on top of the house, rushing away at the sudden loudness of it. Like a gun shot it was, only louder, sharper, and more worrying.
Hubs and me were talking about the ongoing plans for Labartere. And then the sound arrived, pausing us. The roof! Something has happened to the roof!
Hubs hurtled himself up the ladder to have a look. I hurtled myself outside, round to the back of the house I hurried, expecting to see a hole in the roof, but there wasn't, all looked normal. Nothing to report upstairs either.
Nothing to do but carry on, in the hopes that something dire hadn't happened to the house and that it was not going to fall down at any minute. A second, smaller, shot gun sound happened an hour or so later, this time in the front part of the house. Hubs didn't hear it though, he had his head phones on and was at his PC, and I didn't mention it because I did not see any point in worrying him. If the house was going to fall down it was going to do that anyway.
Jean Pierre came round for another look at the hallway where he is going to construct a staircase on site. Mentioned the loud cracks to him. He smiled. He could see our worry.
He said, "............................................. " in French of course because he is a Frenchman. Hubs interpreted for me, and this is my interpretation for you: He thinks Jean Pierre said that the oak main beams are still drying out. It will take 25 years to do so. That because the roof is made of wood, that wood, even though it is not now in the form of the original tree, that it is still a living thing, and that it will flex and move about.
Oh by crikey, that has made us feel differently about the roof and ceilings. All that flexing and drying going on above our heads. Not to worry. At least the cracking sounds are to be expected even if they will no doubt continue to worry us when they happen.
Going to visit some goats tomorrow.