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Memories: Fag end of summer


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Fag end of summer

There we are then, the 15 Août is passed and we enter the fag end, the dog days of summer when everything is tired and quiet and waiting for an end. Now September which announces a slow and delicious slide into Autumn, but the tired days when the ground is hard, the plants are aching after their hard fruiting, and broken by the weight of their abundant harvest.

Strange how so many firework displays happen round about now: perhaps a primitive urge to delay the shortening of the days or a need to screw the remaining tourists out of their remaining groats. Whatever, the Church has missed a trick here as it should be sponsoring these events - the Virgin and Child Autumn Fete and firework display, for example - but then fireworks are maybe a reminder of Hell as visioned by Bosch. Whatever, there is a pre-Christian mysticism which needs to be overridden and encased by Catholic dogma there!

And the last swallows are swittering round the place, frantically feeding, yet with suppressed joy as they prepare for their journey, reminding us unfortunately, however much one may enjoy the next couple of months, that Winter is preparing whatever it has in store - and judging by the hips and haws, it may be somewhat rude.

Whatever, it is forgiven if we get a long slow run in, with warm sun and cool nights, and misty mornings with heavy dew, then the first evening fires, just to take the chill off. If this goes slowly until the end of November, then half of winter has gone and we are closer to Spring already

But watch the dog days too - the tourist attractions are tired and worn, the paint is beginning to peel, the café and tourist tat sellers beginning to think of closing for the season and counting their gains before they open in the ski resorts. Even the holiday makers are listless as they feel it is time to go home, that they have had enough.

Second homer’s constant flow of guests, both invited and otherwise begins to dry up, and they load their cars with wine and paté, fruit and nuts, and those little treasures which make winter more bearable in the cold, north lands which they inhabit. And they swear that they will move to France permanently as soon as they can, knowing they never will, but then it is nice to dream.

For those remaining, the sea has a tired downbeaten sheen on it, the very sand on the beach has a worn-out, grainy feel as if it wants a rest from constant churning and digging and being shat upon and pissed into.

Whilst in the guided tour attractions, the patter of the guides wears thin and they sometimes try to slip in little piques to see if their 10000th group of Japanese tourists for the year are listening 'Versailles was used as a brothel in the 19 century with the courtesans occupying the biggest rooms being able to charge more. Hence it became a meeting place for the French parliament on the principle that if you can't bring Gilles and Jules to the mountain, then the mountain must move to where les députés can be found.' And the cameras snap away, and snap and snap and...........

What I do like, though, is the old French autumn tradition of helping the Spanish with their fruit. As you know, the production is sent to France for distribution to the deserving. As the trucks cross the border, they are met by groups of happy singing French fruit farmers, carrying the tools of their trade (sticks and pick axe handles, cans of diesel and oily rags), who help the drivers with the terrible chore of unloading the fruit, then, warmed by burning pallettes and tyres, stay up all night to share it out with all the waiting public who have come from far and wide to get this essential part of their winter provisions, watched over by relaxed gendarmes who smile and laugh as they admire the way that the French keep old customs alive. Who knows, they may even accept a few kilos from the farmers for their loving wives to make jam, if it is possible to be a loving wife in a caserne!
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I can never decide between autumn or winter as favourite times of year, but autumn always seems like an old lady remembering her salad days and enjoying the season of mellow fruitfulness.

in reality here it seems to herald a season of jam and chutney making and hoping I have enough dried fruit for Christmas Pufding, Cakes and mincemeat 🙂

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