Sunday, April 21, 2013

juggling with the unpredictable

There is nothing quite so stressful as juggling with the unpredictable. This is what I have been doing for the last week and am likely to be doing for some to come. The first, and most important, unpredictable event is the arrival date of the roof tiler. Already he is two months behind on his work schedule because of bad winter weather. Apparently we are now in third position on his works schedule which puts his potential arrival date about 15 days from now, say early May. Unless time consuming snags arise on sites one and two. Or unless it suddenly starts to seriously rain.

JP and I were relatively serene about the whole event, nothing we could do about it, so why worry....then other people started panicking. 'Where are you going to go?' 'You can't stay in the house with men on the roof'. 'The noise, think of the noise.' We had not really thought about it, despite having had the roof done at least twice before in the thirty-plus years we have lived at La Chaise.

The first time the roof was re-done we were not living at La Chaise because there was no hot water, cold water or electricity either – nor very many solid floors. The second time we were only having one half done. The workman concerned was M.Parrot, senior couvreur of St Aquilin. He came with his own flat bed truck, ladder, tiles and cement, sand – all the necessaries. Later he came up with his trusty Manitou (a French brand of fork lift truck) which, he observed, was a lot more hard working than any ouvrier and incurred neither wages nor social charges. The third time it was the other half of the roof and M. Parrot again.

But this time it is going to be Pascal Maillet from Tamarelle (the hamlet where strange men throw their dancing shoes into the road, see an earlier blog) together with his equipe, scaffolding, underlay, new tiles and vast metrage of bache to cover any open parts of roof over night. They might even bring their own radio.

The first, obvious, solution is to bolt down to Spain – but we cannot do that in case A Decision has to be taken because A Problem has arisen, which it will do. Occasional admiration of work in progress is obligatory. Also a friend is coming for a long promised visit – and he has 'done' Spain and does not wish to 'do' it again. He is due to arrive in the second week of May, definite.

So the other solution is to install ourselves in the Farmhouse which, by a great stroke of luck, or subconscious prescience, I have not let until the third week of May. But we do not know how long the roofing work will take – depends on any possible imprevus - in other words, as long as a piece of baler twine.

On a much more cheerful note, though equally unpredictable – the first orchids are flowering, and in great numbers. Never have there been so many 'Early Purples' under the ash trees as this year. And there is a discreet clump of 'Serapia' amongst the pines in Pont Franรงois field, possibly serapia lingua, the tongue orchid but we won't know until it flowers, until then it is quite unphotogenic...

note the grape hyacinth that has snuck in on the left..!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

spring blood to the head

As spring settles in and humans start to relax, cease to believe in the unpredictability of the weather, non human life starts to get excited. The birds have become almost obnoxious. Whilst their song is still delightful – if occasionally repetitive – their antics are less so. There are a couple of red-starts who are disputing possession of the former garage, once my workshop, now Alexandre's atelier. There is an aerial bird fight between the two couples, presumably both males, in front of the atelier which is full of carpentry and other machinery. Also occasionally Alexandre. The machines are noisy and Alexandre is tall. The birds don't seem to care. They are determined to gain possession of last year's wren nests, still attached to the beams. Last year's wrens managed to chase me out.

Then there are the 'docile' doves, making wonderful coo-ing noises and flying gracefully from tree to tree in the back garden. They are also – before our very eyes – eating the flower buds of the Virginia tulip tree. Then they go and have a squabble in the palm tree right next to our terrace whilst we are having the first drink outside
this spring. During the few minutes silence as they fly to the highest point of the twin oaks, an aggressive batrachian Trumpet Voluntary starts up – way out of place, nowhere near any of the ponds. It greets us as we walk through the gates, appears to follow us down to the farm but at least there we have a duck pond. This sound quite drowns the plaintive 'ploop-ploop' of the midwife toad.

And, of course, the newly liberated sheep are making a racket, ewes and lambs.
Whilst the ewes are frantically eating fresh, wet grass and yelling (mouths full) for their lambs, the lambs are running around in circles, jumping up and down and getting their heads stuck in the fencing. Our second year ram, DSK, has been liberated into the woods with a duenna to keep him calm but he does bawl from time to time when he sees the others. Then greed for fresh food takes over and he, too, stuffs his mouth with new grass.

In short, the animals have no respect for humans at all, whatever was written in Genesis 1.26, they did not read or do not believe.

On a quieter note, the wild ducks appear to be settling down between our three ponds. Mostly they are in the reed fringed pond, good for nest building, at the far end of the land. But they do come up to the official duck pond as well as the Black Pond in the Woods. I went up there to look for them and startled three hen pheasants who 'ran' along the fence and disappeared into the woods. Really, those birds need deportment lessons, hen pheasants waddle like ducks.

see what a nice pond we have for the ducks!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

as April begins....

It is that time of year
when the dawn chorus seems to last
all day
and only experts can parse
the sound
into its component parts.

I no longer hear
the screech of the owl
that tears night from day,
for I am still safe asleep
in my dreamless dark
as the sun rises
and calls the birds
to sing.

Those tremulous riffs,
complex movements of tongue,
throat, lungs
become triumphant sound,
calling to future mates,
defining hunting grounds.

And then, at the darkening
of the sky,
the night-jar's churr
sings of warmth to come
and the owl's quiet hooting
rejoins day to night.