October Memories From France

Sadly, I only got to spend one October in France and it was glorious. I was just coming out of 4 months, post Operation, drugs and pain fog. I was by then marginally mobile and Dad was visiting again! Bless him. I called, he packed his bags and got on a plane.

Dad adored France, the slower pace of life and of course the coffee. He laughed for months about how long a french man could dwell over one tiny espresso!

We spent many happy hours in the cafe, overlooking the magistrates court in Argentan.

One particular late October day, it was cold and raining, so dismal! Dad always insisted on cafe time daily and why not? On this day our regular haunt was all decked out ready for Halloween and the local Mum's popped in and out collecting treats with their children! Dad always insisted on sitting outside undercover, watching the world go by in the market square. He was quite 'tickled pink' one morning to find the local market workers having a beer at 10 am in the morning! Hard core the French, eh!

Dad is quite a fussy eater, but he managed quite well on a diet of steak or omelette and frites! Oh and lots of bread and pastries! Suits you sir!

We walked as best I could. Dad at 70 something was for once faster than me! He stacked the wood! He swept the dying wisteria from the terraces. We hobbled along very well together, me with a stick and him with his camera. His companionship is one I miss everyday, but I won't miss him being the wood controller! I had to literally beg him to put another log on the fire!

Stacking wood in France is quite a feat isn't it? Good for the heart and lungs, also good for ones mental health. Great for the body and soul. Can't bottle that but if you could......?There's a real sense of achievement in neat wood stacking. It's a competition with self! Then there's the sweeping up of the dregs for fire starting of the right kind. The logs are rather large and deliveries are also rather bigger than in the UK. The task requires sheer muscle and braun. Later there always the gift of wine and cheese or cider for Dad!

The fire places in the farmhouse rental were pretty big, so we learnt very quickly how far apart to place the metal dog legs, to get to most out of our logs. There is definitely a method to the madness. The oil boiler unfortunately seemed to have a permanent leak and was demanding a refill every 6 weeks without fail, so I preferred to keep the home fires going. Being warm is important, being broke isn't.

Dad really enjoyed photographing the wild life but was miffed he didn't get to see the stag or the Sanglier. He spent many happy hours wandering around churches and towns, clicking as he went. Mores the pity that I wasn't fit enough to do more with him that visit but I know he will enjoy a visit as soon as I land in France again soon.

In October after the harvest, life in France clicks down a gear and by Christmas rural french life is almost comatose. It takes some getting used to but one day you realize it is something you miss badly. Time back in the bank? Time to take it easy and enjoy family and friends, priceless.

October for me in France meant lots of leaves. Crunchy brown and gold leaves. That was how I got exercising again because without fail, everyday there would be more and more. It was a task that never really came to an end until the snow came. There was a deep satisfaction in trying to clear them away daily. Never ending little mountains of leaves challenging me to keep up with mother nature!


Donna x

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