Friday, 16 September 2016

Autumn in France - a new experience

1 September. North-east France
From my bed, the morning sky is noticeably different – nature has removed the familiar, saturated hues from the sky. Dull, white and grey clouds fuse together to obliterate the insipid blue backdrop.  There’s a "nip in the air": a different coldness to that of a cool summer’s day. It appears that while I was sleeping, a deity has flicked the weather-switch from “l'été”  to “l'automne”. 
The hollow sounds of my foot steps on the stairs linger a little longer than usual as I descend the wooden 
spiral to commence my daily routine: open shutters; a cup of tea; bathroom rituals; boulangerie; a croissant and coffee on the terrace. 

But today I falter as the tatty, internal shutters of the sitting room are flung aside: familiar village roof tops are revealed, but strikingly with unfamiliar thin wisps of smoke hanging above their chimney stacks. No movement - just perfectly still. 
Something else is awry – the feathered acrobats that keep us entertained each morning and evening are missing. Squinting, I can just make out their motionless silhouettes across the valley – a row of small dots along the spine of the church roof. 
Opening the terrace door I investigate further: no familiar morning kiss from a timid dawn breeze.  The air is paralysed - devoid of any movement or sound; its chill has mingled with the herbaceous scents of damp foliage, proclaiming “summer’s over”.  I stand transfixed by the canvas before me. Such a dramatic change. So sudden. So unfamiliar. The motionless smoke continues to play statues. I stare, “perhaps I’ll catch it out?” I stare further.  No. 
Time stops. I feel at one with the world; utterly content; incredibly grateful. first autumn in France.