It’s never as bad as you think

June 2016

Now and again, there are certain days, weeks or months that just don’t turn out as planned. The month of June has been one of those months for me. It began with me feeling optimistic and excited, but it’s been dragging on for ages and to be quite honest, I’m rather looking forward to seeing the back of it.
The rain didn’t help…I kept telling myself it was good for the garden, but maybe it was just a little too good. The weather just seemed to go from one extreme to the other. One minute it was too wet to go out and plant my seeds, the next minute it was too hot to even consider stepping foot outside, let alone to do a spot of gardening! It is reassuring to know that I’m not the only person to be behind in the garden this year, in fact, practically everyone seems to be on the back foot. We had a relatively mild winter and everyone tells me it’s thrown nature off course somewhat…or has it?

I kept putting off writing this month’s blog post because I was feeling unmotivated and I felt like I had nothing productive to contribute, so, not one to dwell under a cloud of self pity, a short walk around the garden soon lifted my spirits and made me realise that it wasn’t that bad after all. Flowers have this miraculous capacity to bloom no matter what the circumstances and the sight of our beautiful roses soon brought a smile to my face.

Their sweet fragrance made me forget that our brand new strimmer broke down on its second day of use, and that over three weeks later, it is still awaiting replacement parts at the repair shop, without so much as a word of apology from the French retailer or manufacturer, let alone a replacement of the product itself. I’ve already mentioned it numerous times already but the French really haven’t grasped the concept of good customer service! Maybe they don’t realise the urgency of a garden growing beyond all control?

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As I continued walking on my quest for self motivation, a quick peak inside the polytunnel suddenly made me forget about any future complications we might now face living in France following the Brexit vote…and even England’s hasty knock-out of the Euros (at least we didn’t have to play the French and suffer any further humiliation from our French neighbours!). Pete and I have decided to apply for French Citizenship by naturalisation. It’s a lengthy process that involves a lot of paperwork and it is likely to take two years if approved, so we figured it would be better to start proceedings now, while we are still officially part of the EU. It means we will have dual nationality and be able to stay in France indefinitely should the Brexit pose any future threat to our livelihood.

And, after a long wait, given the bad weather, tiny flowers finally started to appear on our enormous linden (lime) tree. Much to our delight, the bees soon returned in their swarms to our garden. We’ve been harvesting as many of the flowers as possible for linden tea (tilleul), but the bees can rest assured, there’s plenty for everyone! Although I hate to say it, we may eventually have to get someone in to cut it back a bit. To give you an idea of scale, here it is, towering over our house and polytunnel!

A visit to the sculpture exhibition in the nearby village of Vaureilles took my mind off my dad’s unscheduled return to the UK for hospital treatment, where he’s still undergoing tests to find out what’s wrong with him. Local sculptor, Pierre Prevost, did a project with the children in the local primary schools and I think you’ll agree, it is pretty impressive:

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Oh, and we got the go-ahead for the reed beds, so normally the work will be carried out at the end of this year…good riddance to our old, smelly septic tank!

While writing this post, I started wondering if there was actually a name for this therapeutic healing process that nature proposes. A little bit of research led me to believe it’s called Ecotherapy – contact with nature.

“A 2007 study from the University of Essex in the U.K.
found that a walk in the country reduces depression in 71% of participants.
The researchers found that as little as five minutes in a natural setting,
whether walking in a park or gardening in the backyard,
improves mood, self-esteem, and motivation”.

I learned something else this month too, from the lovely French ladies in my beginner English class…apparently the reason why I’ve been so unsuccessful at jam-making is because I have not respected the lunar calendar! Now I’ve heard of planting seeds according to the phases of the moon, but never making conserves by it. Myth or reality, I particularly like the idea that there’s hope for me yet at making conserves. It might just be my lack of experience, but the next time I try it, I might just consider that “vintners know never to bottle wine, make jam, confine any food or herbal product to a container on the waxing or full moon – the expansion is real and will pop a cork or cause it to spoil”. Now that’s what I call food for thought.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the beautiful Anthurium house plant I was given by my adult students for my efforts this term. It was an unexpected gift, which made it all the more touching. A huge thank you to Maï, Marie-Claude, Liliane and Nicole.

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