The sunless summer

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When will it stop RAINING!!!?

Ugh, will it EVER stop? Could be worse, I suppose – could be Wales, could be Hebden Bridge. But good grief it would be nice to have a warm, sunny, summer’s day at last. I think it has rained almost every day since the end of March and it is truly the worst summer I remember. 

For weeks now, we have been getting up to grey, gloomy mornings, missing that bright golden summer light that normally pours through our east-facing window. Some days I’ve hardly gone further than the postbox and even to get there means donning a parka and a hat. And there’s nothing to DO. When you live in a rural area, most summer events revolve around outdoor activities – fetes, fairgrounds, vide-greniers and animal shows. Have I been to any? That’ll be no, then. Actually, I went to ONE, about a month ago, which was on one single hot, dry day, just before the deluge returned. 

To tell the truth, I have kind of gotten used to it not being summer. I’ve hardly worn a dress this year as even when the sun has shone it’s been too cold. Instead, I’m living in jeans, teeshirts and – good grief – socks and fleeces, and as I type, I’m toasting my toes in front of a log fire because a couple of days ago I got a jacket out of the wardrobe and it actually felt damp and I just thought oh sod it, let’s use up the last of the wood.

We’ve also put off the summer wood delivery, not – the usual problem – through fear of it being so horribly hot when stacking it, but this time because we don’t want to do it in the pouring rain.

For those who don’t know because they don’t live in the country, it’s also quite likely that the entire apple harvest has failed, at least in France. I don’t know about the UK, but here, where last year I had about 14 crates of apples from my three trees, this year I have 15 apples, period. No cherries either, and there are no plums or mirabelles or greengages. All I have are a few gooseberries, a few whitecurrants, and a good tree each of quinces and medlars. The fiddle-arse faffing about of extracting pulp from these rock-hard fruit will have to be a chore that’s gone through this year, because I’ll have no apple compote to lay down.

Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to fruit, and meanwhile the arable farmers are going crazy because most of the hay crop was lost (this year, the commune mulched the verges instead of cutting for hay, which is something I’ve NEVER seen in 16 years here) and the early cereal crops are in serious trouble. Everyone’ll feel that when there’s no oats, rye or wheat for bread. Between you and me, expect food prices to rocket next year.  

It is not only we humans who are fed up with it. I watched somewhat horror-struck as so many of our Southern Hawker dragonflies struggled out of their exuvia this year and ditched straight into the water, their gossamer wings twisted and broken. They are so terribly vulnerable until those wings harden, and they’re not built to withstand the winds and torrential downpours we’ve been having since the end of March. And because they are fewer in numbers, we have more mosquitoes too, which are of course unwelcome.

Our new baby barn owl sits much of his time hunched up on the piggery roof, sheltering from the rain under the walnut leaves. Barn owls don’t have very waterproof feathers either, and it’s been way too wet for him to hunt, so I can only hope that he’s OK, poor bird.

Oh well, mustn’t grumble, as we Brits say whenever we grumble. Let us only hope that the old ’40 days and 40 nights’ saying comes true because I understand it was a sunny day in England today, in marked contrast to the cold and rain here. Fingers crossed for better times….



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