Saturday, 26 April 2014

Spring in Normandy

The online forecast predicted 'averses orageuses', and unfortunately for us, thundery showers was what we got. For a while the sun shone, the wind blew, and we hoped the long, coarse, sodden grass would dry out enough to mow. But as soon as there was fuel in the strimmer, ready for me to release my smaller shrubs from the entangling grass, the dark clouds gathered, the thunder rumbled, and down came the rain. It lasted only ten minutes before moving off to soak someone else, but of course now all that drying is lost. Such are the delights of typical Norman weather. We should be used to it by now. When we drove to the supermarket this lunchtime - after a long drive down from Calais last night mostly in the dark, arriving at 1.30 in the morning - the views over the fields and across the valleys were seductive, everything greening and budding, fresh and luxuriant. Behind all that sumptuous growth is, of course, the quantities of rain. I mustn't complain; rain makes grass, grass feeds sleek brown-and-white cows, and cows make the cheese for which this region is justly celebrated. But when you have a tiny window of opportunity, rain, frankly, is a pain.
We haven't been here since mid-February,which is far too long to be away, but till now other things have prevented us, and we are paying the price in the form of rampant wet growth. I swear I could win prizes for the size, succulence and sheer virility of my dandelions.
There are compensations: the lilac, purple and white, is in flower, there is still  apple blossom on the trees, and even a few late tulips and irises showing their colours. There are wild orchids - all mauve - on the roadside banks and we have half a dozen in the garden again. And my rhododendrons and azaleas, which love the acid-rich soil here, have begun their annual flaunting which lasts for about two months. The pink rhododendron, now at a peak of brilliance, was bought for my birthday in our first year here, twelve years ago. Such beauty is balm to the soul, produced from much toil. Is there a metaphor lurking somewhere?

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