Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Melbourne’s Autumn brings Back a French Summer

The start of autumn this week has seen the return of summer heat to Melbourne, with skies and light reminiscent of our summers in north-east France. A recent discussion during dinner had us recalling the first July we spent at our house in France - an unforgettable event.

Late July: our first French Summer

Plaster dust, spider webs – old and new, airborne grime generated by decades of neglect, and reconstituted glue from soggy pieces of wallpaper, manage to amalgamate with perspiration generated by the summer heat, to form a sticky coating on our skin.

Empty glasses and water bottles litter the deep, buckled windowsill. Actions are laboured, but spurred on by the limited time available to renovate this minuscule room – a task that appeared to be straight forward and quick, but is now proving otherwise.

There is no movement in the village. Lunchtime has extended into a siesta as patches of bitumen on the road start to resemble tacky molasses. Charlie and Kenzo, our neighbour’s cats, lie splayed in the cool under the lone conifer that stands like a sentinel to the cluster of houses in our ancient ruelle (lane).

Unexpectedly the faint sounds of plodding hooves pierce the silence, echoing as they rise from the street that sits in the valley below. Inquisitively I poke my head out of the second storey window while straddling its sill – a precarious move.  Nothing new in the landscape to report.

As the sounds grow louder, the shouting of children becomes faintly audible. Peering left through the breaks in the tree-tops, I get a brief glimpse of the scene below just before a parade of tired, hot bodies becomes fully visible.

A young boy, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, leads a pony on a slackened reign. Like his 2 friends trailing him, he’s abandoned his saddle. A fourth pony, head drooping and strapped into a cart harness, slowly edges into the picture.
The poor animal is pulling a tatty canvas covered wagon, reminiscent of those of the Wild West, albeit smaller and in proportion to the creature’s size. 

My pity for this equine slave soon gives way to warm amusement as the rear of the cart and source of the high pitched voices, come into view. Pushing the wooden structure up the road’s steep incline, and almost parallel to the ground themselves, are 2 small lads, shirtless and gasping for breath amidst their encouraging shouts to their hoofed companion up front..........The doors to my childhood memories are prised gently open.

My husband now joins me at the window.  “How stupid to be riding in this heat, but what a great adventure” I mutter. “Oh to be young again.” “ But we are young, and a touch foolish – look what we’re doing!” he chortles as he deposits a sticky kiss on my damp, grime-encrusted face......
Life alters quickly when one’s perspective changes!

One clean and painted room - small, but mighty significant
for us.


Valerie said...

What a delightful story you tell Elizabeth - definitely gifted! Thank you for sharing your experience of renovating in France; I felt very much an observer yet almost a participant in the tale! (Thank you too for dropping by) Hope you get some of the rain soon - I believe there's more on the way here in Adelaide before some semblance of normalcy (meteorologicaly speaking) appears.

Jeanie said...

I am completely entranced and enchanted! It's like being there with you!

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

Hi Valerie and Jeanie, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. It is always a pleasure to drop by your blogs. Bisous

Debs said...

You write so beautifully. I felt like I was about to start a wonderful novel :)

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Oh I am so very happy to see you posting again! I think of you often and wonder how your French Folly is coming along. :)

Paulita said...

I love this story too. I could definitely feel the heat and the humidity of the day. Your husband's right. You definitely were on an adventure. I'd love it if you come play Dreaming of France. You just need to add your name and link your blog address. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Gunn said...

Nice blog.
Iwill be back:)

Paulita said...

Elizabeth, So glad to have you join us again. Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France.

Meine Dinge Franka said...

Wonderful autumn impressions!

♥ Franka