Monday, September 20, 2010
Week 17: In and Around a French Country Village
Days have been clear and bright inviting lazy walks about town. One day recently I began to notice beautiful textures created from old doors, rusty gates, stone walls. Once I focused on them, I saw them everywhere. I spent an afternoon snapping photos of some interesting patterns our little village offers to the observant eye. Time has had its way with paint, brick and metal; vigorous plant roots are not confounded by stone structures. Between the works of men and the effects of nature, lovely images are created.
We noticed this curiosity on the road towards our garden. If it is a make-shift scarecrow, the question would arise, what is being protected from the birds? This is no fruit-bearing tree. If the clothing is just getting an airing, someone had to climb rather high to hang it there. Is there some magic in it?
Historically there were a double set of walls encircling our village, one around the castle, another protecting the entire village, now, mostly removed to allow for roadways. One large piece of this ancient structure still exists. The original town ramparts stand behind the castle and enclose the village garden plots. The back of our garden is bordered by this wall. I rarely go on the other side, even though there is a very nice little trail next to it.
The pathway there affords very lovely views over the valley beyond, which this time of year are particularly sweet.
Below the path is the Ramparts garden which is maintained by the community. It is a medieval herb garden, growing medicinal plants.
Of course this time of year also offers an abundance of fruits and pods. I don't know what kind of tree grows these wonderful bean shaped seed pods, but they look so nice hanging from the branches.
Monique's fence is festooned in grapes, sweetening in the fall sunshine. We got a jar of her homemade
And apple orchards everywhere encircle the village, ready to give of their effulgence. Northern France is a natural home to apples of every description, used primarily in the making of cider and calvados.
We are full each weekend this month, but week days are much quieter now. I've had many enjoyable hours in the studio or sitting in our sunny apartment window, sketching my favorite view.
I haven't seen my son James since last Christmas, but he arrives this afternoon! And not just for a visit, but to stay for at least the next three years. He will be living in London and working towards his Ph.D. in play writing. I expect to have many opportunities to visit Britain in the months and years ahead. More on his visit to France when we meet again next week.