Summer solstice, the longest day of the year and nearly midsummer. I am not quite sure when that is, but today is the longest day. I heard Nick get up at 5.30 to watch the sunrise and momentarily thought about going to watch too, but the next thing I knew light was pouring in through the window and it had just gone half past seven. The sun was shining, that was a start, but after the last few days of unseasonably cold weather I could tell from under my layers of blankets that it was still at least a little chilly for the time of year.
Chilly was an understatement, clouds of steamy breath as I rushed to pull on my clothes in a futile attempt not to loose too much warmth as I transitioned from bed to awake in the shortest possible time. It was not winter cold, but it felt somehow much worse because it was so unseasonal. I boiled the kettle and had a leisurely cup of tea in the very open plan kitchen and flicked through last weeks Independent. Heaths’ new partner Dean had left several papers from when they came over for the weekend, and it was good to read some news even if it was a few days old. My shirt, sweat shirt, padded jacket and hat attempted to keep me warm, but with two huge gaping holes, where the doors should be, letting the outside weather in, I might as well have been sitting under a tree in the garden, at least it was sunny out there.
I was just about to go outside when Yvon popped in. Yvon is one of the village elders and lives opposite in a wonderful old farmhouse with his wife Renee. We had dinner there last year and I can still recall the amazing taste of food cooked in an old, wood fired stove and the simple functionality of their comfortable dining area and home. Anyway, he had brought over some lettuce leaves, there were too many and the plants were about to bolt so he thought that we could enjoy some,
Nicholas appeared just in time to translate; I can just about pass the time of day with Yvon, he struggles with my foreign accent and I find his local dialect almost incomprehensible. He had on his five winter layers of clothing, vest, shirt and two jumpers for insulation, the jumpers were no good against the wind so he had on a windproof jacket as the final layer. He always wears a cap so that was no different, and under his trousers he showed us his winter thermals. It has never been heard of before, such low temperatures at this time of year, 5 degrees last night, in all his 84 years there has never been a summer like it. 12 forecast today and it should be up near the 30’s. The weather has gone mad, not only the weather but the people too, just look at the state of the economy and the crazy things that are going on.
The ladies at the dance were not happy either, they had to dress up as if it were winter to keep warm, it was the summer dance he said and they were upset yesterday that they couldn’t wear their summer frocks and flash a bit of leg!!
The rain has been good for the gardens, the greens are loving it, but the lack of warmth has slowed everything down. The tomatoes should be up here by now, he said, gesturing with his hand, and they are only half of that, they have stopped growing because it is so cold. The courgettes haven’t really done very much and the walnuts are at least a month behind. He looked outside, through where the big door should be, to check the sky and said that the weather would be all wrong for the rest of the summer.
Nicholas asked him if he had time to explain how to pinch out his tomatoes again, sometime, and spend a little time in the vegetable garden. In the next couple of days that will be fine. It is good for Nicholas to have someone to teach him how to garden and Yvon loves to share his knowledge, his children and grandchildren are not bothered with those old peasant ways, they would rather be seen spending money in the supermarket to show that they are no longer poor, it is a shame that all that know how won’t be passed down to his family, but at least it won’t be lost completely. I hope he comes back before I head off as I always learn something from Yvon when he is in the garden.