We arrived at La Chaise early in the pink-streaked evening. The sitting room fire had been lit, as had the Rayburn, the warm smell of chestnut smoke greeted us as we left the car. And a small, screeching grandson heralded us by hurling golf balls in triumph. All was well - but very different from Sant Feliu on the Costa Brava.
A rude awakening the following morning for I had forgotten to feed the Rayburn with its night-time snack. It was stone cold. A fast sortie to the wood for kindling and thin logs to get it going again. Fortunately the chickens take their anti-flea baths by the wood pile, so many scraps of wood surface.
No time for finesse, some scrumpled paper, several (paraffin!) firelighters, the wood scraps on top and scatter lit matches. All draught controls open, Rayburn was in a forgiving mood, so lit easily and was soon warm. Range toast and fresh eggs poached, only missing was home-made marmalade, otherwise a real country breakfast.
A walk round the fields and woods after lunch, seeing decay and growth all round. A new crop of mushrooms, like overgrown lichen, on an oak stump, digesting and reducing it to soil.
|Scum or lichen like? Mushrooms at work
|Lichen sometimes has an artistic soul - can one anthromorphise with parasites? It had some help from a mining or pecking species
Mildly pleased with my forethought, I started to sweep the kitchen floor. Fires are very messy, not just in terms of soot, cinders and splinters but also for the dust, dust, dust everywhere. A shock and my brain re-engaged with reality, reality at the foot of my broom. A peacock butterfly lay spread on the floor. Quite out of season. I can only assume it came in with a log, on which it was hibernating, almost invisible, and the warmth brought it out of its torpor.
|Had I been a mouse, I might have been frightened, but I was just worried. What to do?
Using a stiff sheet of paper, I lifted it off the floor and it closed its wings. Placed on the earth of an empty window box, it was practically invisible - which is probably why I missed it on the log. Perhaps when I am back again, this coming summer, I shall see its offspring everywhere. We have a good nettle nursery for the eggs.