The computer is in dry dock at the moment so I am afraid that fans of Riri and Fonfon will have to wait a little while for their next episode. Meanwhile here are a few photos of what we have been up to as the season changes and we all prepare for winter.
The Morlanche vendange finished last week and Brice and Lisa are busy with décuvage and pressing the grapes. After some very anxious moments in July when it looked as though the combined onslaughts of frost, torrential rain, mildew, oidium and finally hungry badgers would seriously dent the harvest, they are pretty pleased with the result. The picking was laborious, as we inspected every bunch, keeping only the healthy grapes, but as usual it was a joyous event. The weather was perfect and new friendships were made as jokes, gossip and music circulated along the rows.
Here we are having a sit down at the end of the last day of picking. M Géry, on the left, planted some of the vines Brice and Lisa now look after around fifty years ago and the cuvée they make from this plot is called “J’ai bu, j’ai ri” in his honour.
We are tidying up the garden and harvesting the final vegetables of the season. Last year we lost quite a few of our butternuts because we failed to bring them in before the first frost. They seemed OK to begin with but we found that they did not keep well over the winter. These are bit of a motley crew in terms of size but they taste delicious. We’ve planted out the winter lettuces and we’re picking the last beans, tomatoes and zinnias.
When we went to a friend’s house to drain down their water system, we met this gorgeous fire salamander in the pit where the stop tap is located.
He didn’t seem to be very happy in his dank, dingy prison with nothing to eat, so we rescued him and he set off happily into the leafy undergrowth.
We watched him head away from the road with some relief: these beautiful creatures are not that common here and unfortunately if you do spot one it will most probably be squashed on a country lane or forest track.
Back in our veg patch we found three jumbo cucumbers, if you can call them that, which had been hiding under their leaves and were definitely not fit for human consumption so we tried them on the hens we are looking after for some friends whilst they are away. They don’t seem that enthusiastic, but they are laying well nonetheless.
Last Saturday we joined an interpretive walk through a beautiful beech wood at les Fauries above Arlebosc led by a representative of the Office National des Forêts – roughly the equivalent of the Forestry Commission in England. He commented interestingly about the different species we encountered and the challenges that they are facing. On a lighter note, he showed us how to measure the height of a tree using two sticks and inevitably, half the party periodically disappeared into the woods, amid much banter, in search of mushrooms ! They had come armed with a good supply of bags, which were soon bulging.
This event was part of an ongoing series of discussions, lectures and events on the theme of bio diversity and sustainability in the context of climate change, with a particular focus on trees and the forest.
There is a competion running for the best photo of a remarkable local tree, all of which are being logged on an interactive map. (This magnificent beech has been entered three times).
The primary school children in all five participating villages have been drawing trees, workshops on trees and memory have been held in the care homes and hospital and a tree will be planted by the local branch of the Alzheimers society.
The whole programme has been considerably disrupted by the various health restrictions, and many events have had to be postponed until the spring, including the concert for which we have been commissioned – a repertoire of pieces associated with trees and the forest. Markus has been hard at work again on arrangements and things are beginning to take shape. We have another full-day rehearsal tomorrow with Linda (piano) and Pascal (cello). These are always brilliant musical days, with lots of inspiration, collaboration and a great atmosphere. Pascal jokes that he only comes for the food ….. so in fact I had better get cooking!